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The cold hollow eye of a revolver sought the center 
of my forehead 

[Page 98] 












Made in the United States of America 


A. C McClurg & Co. 


Published September, 1918 

Copyrighted in Great Britain 



I The Plant Men .... 

II A Forest Battle .... 

III The Chamber of Mystery 

IV Thuvia 

V Corridors of Peril 

VI The Black Pirates of Barsoom 

VII A Fair Goddess .... 

VIII The Depths of Omean . 

IX Issus, Goddess of Life Eternal 

X The Prison Isle of Shador . 

XI When Hell Broke Loose 

XII Doomed to Die 

XIII A Break for Liberty . 

XIV The Eyes in the Dark 
XV Flight and Pursuit 

XVI Under Arrest . „ 

XVII The Death Sentence 

XVIII Sola's Story . . 

XIX Black Despair . 

XX The Air Battle . 

XXI Through Flood and Flame 

XXII Victory and Defeat . . 


















TWELVE years had passed since I had laid the 
body of my great-uncle, Captain John Carter, 
of Virginia, away from the sight of men in that 
strange mausoleum in the old cemetery at Rich- 

Often had I pondered on the odd instructions he 
had left me governing the construction of his mighty 
tomb, and especially those parts which directed that 
he be laid in an open casket and that the ponderous 
mechanism which controlled the bolts of the vault's 
huge door be accessible only from the inside. 

Twelve years had passed since I had read the re- 
markable manuscript of this remarkable man; this 
man who remembered no childhood and who could 
not even offer a vague guess as to his age ; who was 
always young and yet who had dandled my grand- 
father's great-grandfather upon his knee; this man 
who had spent ten years upon the planet Mars ; who 
had fought for the green men of Barsoom and fought 
against them; who had fought for and against the 
red men and who had won the ever beautiful Dejah 
Thoris, Princess of Helium, for his wife, and for 
nearly ten years had been a prince of the house of 
f Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium. 



Twelve years had passed since his body had been 
found upon the bluff before his cottage overlooking 
the Hudson, and ofttimes during these long years 
I had wondered if John Carter were reaHy dead, or 
if he again roamed the dead sea bottoms of that 
dying planet; if he had returned to Barsoom to find 
that he had opened the frowning portals of the 
mighty atmosphere plant in time to save the count- 
less millions who were dying of asphyxiation on that 
far-gone day that had seen him hurtled ruthlessly 
through forty-eight million miles of space back to 
Earth once more. I had wondered if he had found 
his black-haired Princess and the slender son he had 
dreamed was with her in the royal gardens of Tardos 
Mors, awaiting his return. 

Or, had he found that he had been too late, anc* 
thus gone back to a living death upon a dead 
world? Or was he really dead after all, never to 
return either to his mother Earth or his beloved 

Thus was I lost in useless speculation one sultry 
August evening when old Ben, my body servant, 
handed me a telegram. Tearing it open I read : 

" Meet me tomorrow hotel Raleigh Richmond. 

"John Carter." 

Early the next morning I took the first train for 
Richmond and within two hours was being ushered 
into the room occupied by John Carter. 


As I entered he rose to greet me, his old-time 
cordial smile of welcome lighting his handsome face. 
Apparently he had not aged a minute, but was still 
the straight, clean-limbed fighting man of thirty. 
His keen gray eyes were undimmed, and the only 
lines upon his face were the lines of iron character 
and determination that always had been there since 
first I remembered him, nearly thirty-five years be- 

" Well, nephew," he greeted me, " do you feel as 
though you were seeing a ghost, or suffering from 
the effects of too many of Uncle Ben's juleps?" 

"Juleps, I reckon," I replied, "for I certainly feel 
mighty good; but maybe it's just the sight of you 
again that affects me. You have been back to Mars ? 
Tell me. And Dejah Thoris? You found her well 
and awaiting you ? " 

"Yes, I have been to Barsoom again, and — but 
it's a long story, too long to tell in the limited time 
I have before I must return. I have learned the 
secret, nephew, and I may traverse the trackless 
void at my will, coming and going between the 
countless planets as I list; but my heart is always 
in Barsoom, and while it is there in the keeping of 
my Martian Princess I doubt that I shall ever again 
leave the dying world that is my life. 

" I have come now because my affection for you 
prompted me to see you once more before you pass 
over forever into that other life that I shall never 


know, and which though I have died thrice and shall 
die again tonight, as you know death, I am as un- 
able to fathom as are you. 

"Even the wise and mysterious therns of Bar- 
soom, that ancient cult which for countless ages has 
been credited with holding the secret of life and 
death in their impregnable fastnesses upon the hither 
slopes of the Mountains of Otz, are as ignorant as 
we. I have proved it, though I near lost my life in 
the doing of it; but you shall read it all in the notes 
I have been making during the last three months 
that I have been back upon Earth." 

He patted a swelling portfolio that lay on the 
table at his elbow. 

" I know that you are interested and that you be- 
lieve, and I know that the world, too, is interested, 
though they will not believe for many years; yes, 
for many ages, since they cannot understand. Earth 
men haYe not yet progressed to a point where they 
can comprehend the things that I have written in 
these notes. 

" Give them what you wish of it, what you think 
will not harm them, but do not feel aggrieved if they 
laugh at you." 

That night I walked down to the cemetery with 
him. At the door of his vault he turned and pressed 
my hand. 

" Good-bye, Nephew," he said. " I may never see 
you again, for I doubt that I can ever bring myself 


to leave my wife and boy while they live, and the 
span of life upon Barsoom is often more than a 
thousand years." 

He entered the vault. The great door swung 
slowly to. The ponderous bolts grated into place. 
The lock clicked. I have never seen Captain John 
Carter, of Virginia, since. 

But here is the story of his return to Mars on 
that other occasion, as I have gleaned it from the 
great mass of notes which he left for me upon the 
table of his room in the hotel at Richmond. 

There is much which I have left out; much which 
I have not dared to tell ; but you will find the story 
of his second search for Dejah Thoris, Princess of 
Helium, even more remarkable than was his first 
manuscript which I gave to an unbelieving world 
a short time since and through which we followed 
the fighting Virginian across dead sea bottoms undetf 
the moora? o£ Mars. E. R, B, 




AS I stood upon the bluff before my cottage on 
that clear cold night in the early part of March, 
1886, the noble Hudson flowing like the gray and 
silent specter of a dead river below me, I felt again 
the strange, compelling influence of the mighty god 
of war, my beloved Mars, which for ten long and 
lonesome years I had implored with outstretched 
arms to carry me back to my lost love. 

Not since that other March night in 1866, when 
I had stood without that Arizona cave in which 
my still and lifeless body lay wrapped in the simili- 
tude of earthly death had I felt the irresistible 
attraction of the god of my profession. 

With arms outstretched toward the red eye of the 
great star I stood praying for a return of that 
strange power which twice had drawn me through 
the immensity of space, praying as I had prayed on 
a thousand nights before during the long ten years 
that I had waited and hoped. 

Suddenly a qualm of nausea swept over me, my 
senses swam, my knees gave beneath me and I 



pitched headlong to the ground upon the very verge 
of the dizzy bluff. 

Instantly my brain cleared and there swept back 
across the threshold of my memory the vivid pic- 
ture of the horrors of that ghostly Arizona cave; 
again, as on that far-gone night, my muscles refused 
to respond to my will and again, as though even here 
upon the banks of the placid Hudson, I could hear 
the awful moans and rustling of the fearsome thing 
which had lurked and threatened me from the dark 
recesses of the cave, I made the same mighty and 
superhuman effort to break the bonds of the strange 
anaesthesia which held me, and again came the 
sharp click as of the sudden parting of a taut wire, 
and I stood naked and free beside the staring, life- 
less thing that had so recently pulsed with the warm, 
red lifoblood of John Carter. 

With scarcely a parting glance I turned my eyes 
agar?/: toward Mars, lifted my hands toward his 
lurid rays, and waited. 

Nor did I have long to wait; for scarce had I 
turned ere I shot with the rapidity of thought into the 
awful void before me. There was the same instant 
of unthinkable cold and utter darkness that I had 
experienced twenty years before, and then I opened 
my eyes in another world, beneath the burning rays 
of a hot sun, which beat through a tiny opening in 
the dome of the mighty forest in which I lay. 

The scene that met my eyes was so un-Martian 


that my heart sprang to my throat as the sudden 
fear swept through me that I had been aimlessly 
tossed upon some strange planet by a cruel ''fate. 

Why not? What guide had I through the 
trackless waste of interplanetary space? What 
assurance that I might not as well be hurtled to 
some far-distant star of another solar system, as to 

I lay upon a close-cropped sward of red grass- 
like vegetation, and about me stretched a grove of 
strange and beautiful trees, covered with huge and 
gorgeous blossoms and filled with brilliant, voice- 
less birds. I call them birds since they were winged, 
but mortal eye ne'er rested on such odd, unearthly 

The vegetation was similar to that which covers 
the lawns of the red Martians of the great water- 
ways, but the trees and birds were unlike anything 
that I had ever seen upon Mars, and then through 
the further trees I could see that most un-Martian 
of all sights — an open sea, its blue waters shim- 
mering beneath the brazen sun. 

As I arose to investigate further I experienced 
the same ridiculous catastrophe that had met my 
first attempt to walk under Martian conditions. 
The lesser attraction of this smaller planet and the 
reduced air pressure of its greatly rarified atmos- 
phere afforded so little resistance to my earthly 
muscles that the ordinary exertion of the mere act 


of rising sent me several feet into the air and pre- 
cipitated me upon my face in the soft and brilliant 
grass of this strange world. 

This experience, however, gave me some slightly- 
increased assurance that, after all, I might indeed 
be in some, to me, unknown corner of Mars, and this 
was very possible since during my ten years resi- 
dence upon the planet I had explored but a com- 
paratively tiny area of its vast expanse. 

I arose again, laughing at my forget fulness, 
and soon had mastered once more the art of at- 
tuning my earthly sinews to these changed condi- 

As I walked slowly down the imperceptible slope 
toward the sea I could not help but note the park- 
like appearance of the sward and trees. The grass 
was as close-cropped and carpet-like as some old 
English lawn and the trees themselves showed evi- 
dence of careful pruning to a uniform height of 
about fifteen feet from the ground, so that as one 
turned his glance in any direction the forest had the 
appearance at a little distance of a vast, high-ceiled 

All these evidences of careful and systematic 
cultivation convinced me that I had been fortunate 
enough to make my entry into Mars on this second 
occasion through the domain of a civilized people 
and that when I should find them I would be ac- 
corded the courtesy and protection that my rank 


as a Prince of the house of Tardos Mors entitled 
me to. 

The trees of the forest attracted my deep admira- 
tion as I proceeded toward the sea. Their great 
stems, some of them fully a hundred feet in diam- 
eter, attested their prodigious height, which I could 
only guess at, since at no point could I penetrate 
their dense foliage above me to more than sixty or 
eighty feet. 

As far aloft as I could see the stems and branches 
and twigs were as smooth and as highly polished 
as the newest of American-made pianos. The wood 
of some of the trees was as black as ebony, while 
their nearest neighbors might perhaps gleam in the 
subdued light of the forest as clear and white as the 
finest china, or, again, they were azure, scarlet, 
yellow, or deepest purple. 

And in the same way was the foliage as gay and 
variegated as the stems, while the blooms that clus- 
tered thick upon them may not be described in any 
earthly tongue, and indeed might challenge the 
language of the gods. 

As I neared the confines of the forest I beheld 
before me, and between the grove and the open sea, 
a broad expanse of meadow land, and as I was about 
to emerge from the shadows of the trees a sight 
met my eyes that banished all romantic and poetic 
reflection upon the beauties of the strange landscape. 

To my left the sea extended as far as the eye 


could reach, before me only a vague, dim line indi- 
cated its further shore, while at my right a mighty 
river, broad, placid, and majestic, flowed between 
scarlet banks to empty into the quiet sea before me. 

At a little distance up the river rose mighty per- 
pendicular bluffs, from the very base of which the 
great river seemed to rise. 

But it was not these inspiring and magnificent 
evidences of Nature's grandeur that took my im- 
mediate attention from the beauties of the forest. 
It was the sight of a score of figures moving slowly 
about the meadow near the bank of the mighty 

Odd, grotesque shapes they were ; unlike anything 
that I had ever seen upon Mars, and yet, at a dis- 
tance, most man-like in appearance. The larger 
specimens appeared to be about ten or twelve feet 
in height when they stood erect, and to be propor- 
tioned as to torse and lower extremities precisely 
as is earthly man. 

Their arms, however, were very short, and from 
where I stood seemed as though fashioned much 
after the manner of an elephant's trunk, in that they 
moved in sinuous and snake-like undulations, as 
though entirely without bony structure, or if there 
were bones it seemed that they must be vertebral 
in nature. 

As I watched them from behind the stem of a 
huge tree, one of the creatures moved slowly in my 


direction, engaged in the occupation that seemed 
to be the principal business of each of them, and 
which consisted in running their oddly shaped hands 
over the surface of the sward, for what purpose I 
could not determine. 

As he approached quite close to me I obtained an 
excellent view of him,, and though I was later to 
become better acquainted with his kind, I may say 
that that single cursory examination of this awful 
travesty on Nature would have proved quite suffi- 
cient to my desires had I been a free agent. The 
fastest flier of the Heliumetic Navy could not quickly 
enough have carried me far from this hideous 

Its hairless body was a strange and ghoulish blue, 
except for a broad band of white which encircled 
its protruding, single eye ; an eye that was all dead 
white — pupil, iris, and ball. 

Its nose was a ragged, inflamed, circular hole in 
the center of its blank face; a hole that resembled 
more closely nothing that I could think of other 
than a fresh bullet wound which has not yet com- 
menced to bleed. 

Below this repulsive orifice the face was quite 
blank to the chin, for the thing had no mouth that 
I could discover. 

The head, with the exception of the face, was 
covered by a tangled mass of jet-black hair some 
eight or ten inches in length. Each hair was about 


the bigness of a large angleworm, and as the thing 
moved the muscles of its scalp this awful head cover- 
ing seemed to writhe and wriggle and crawl about 
the fearsome face as though indeed each separate 
hair was endowed with independent life. 

The body and the legs were as symmetrically- 
human as Nature could have fashioned them, and 
the feet, too, were human in shape, but of monstrous 
proportions. From heel to toe they were fully three 
feet long, and very flat and very broad. 

As it came quite close to me I discovered that its 
strange movements, running its odd hands over the 
surface of the turf, were the result of its peculiar 
method of feeding, which consists in cropping off 
the tender vegetation with its razor-like talons and 
sucking it up from its two mouths, which lie one 
in the palm of each hand, through its arm-like 

In addition to the features which I have already 
described, the beast was equipped with a massive 
tail about six feet in length, quite round where it 
joined the body, but tapering to a flat, thin blade 
toward the end, which trailed at right angles to tihe 

By far the most remarkable feature of this most 
remarkable creature, however, were the two tiny 
replicas of it, each about six inches in length, which 
dangled, one on either side, from its armpits. They 
were suspended by a small stem which seemed to 


grow from the exact tops of their heads to where it 
connected them with the body of the adult. 

Whether they were the young-, or merely portions 
of a composite creature, I did not know. 

As I had been scrutinizing this weird monstrosity 
the balance of the herd had fed quite close to me and 
I now saw that while many had the smaller specimens 
dangling from them, not all were thus equipped, and 
I further noted that the little ones varied in size from 
what appeared to be but tiny unopened buds an inch 
in diameter through various stages of development to 
the full-fledged and perfectly formed creature of ten 
to twelve inches in length. 

Feeding with the herd were many of the little fel- 
lows not much larger than those which remained 
attached to their parents, and from the young of that 
size the herd graded up to the immense adults. 

Fearsome looking as they were, I did not know 
whether to fear them or not, for they did not seem to 
be particularly well equipped for fighting, and I was 
on the point of stepping from my hiding place and 
revealing myself to them to note the effect upon them 
of the sight of a man when my rash resolve was, for- 
tunately for me, nipped in the bud by a strange 
shrieking wail, which seemed to come from the 
direction of the bluffs at my right. 

Naked and unarmed, as I was, my end would 
have been both speedy and horrible at the hands 
of these cruel creatures had I had time to put my 


resolve into execution, but at the moment of the 
shriek each member of the herd turned in the direc- 
tion from which the sound seemed to come, and at 
the same instant every particular snake-like hair 
upon their heads rose stiffly perpendicular as if each 
had been a sentient organism looking or listening 
for the source or meaning of the wail. And indeed 
the latter proved to be the truth, for this strange 
growth upon the craniums of the plant men of Bar- 
soom represents the thousand ears of these hideous 
creatures, the last remnant of the strange race which 
sprung from the original Tree of Life. 

Instantly every eye turned toward one member 
of the herd, a large fellow who evidently was the 
leader. A strange purring sound issued from the 
mouth in the palm of one of his hands, and at the 
Same time he started rapidly toward the bluff, fol- 
lowed by the entire herd. 

Their speed and method of locomotion were both 
remarkable, springing as they did in great leaps of 
twenty or thirty feet, much after the manner of a 

They were rapidly disappearing when it occurred 
to me to follow them, and so, hurling caution to the 
winds, I sprang across the meadow in their wake 
with leaps and bounds even more prodigious than 
their own, for the muscles of an athletic Earth man 
produce remarkable results when pitted against the 
lesser gravity and air pressure of Mars. 


Their way led directly toward the apparent source 
of the river at the base of the cliffs, and as I neared 
this point I found the meadow dotted with huge 
boulders that the ravages of time had evidently dis- 
lodged from the towering crags above. 

For this reason I came quite close to the cause of 
the disturbance before the scene broke upon my 
horrified gaze. As I topped a great boulder I saw 
the herd of plant men surrounding a little group of 
perhaps five or six green men and women of Bar- 

That I was indeed v?pon Mars I now had no doubt, 
for here were members of the wild hordes that peo- 
ple the dead sea bottoms and deserted cities of that 
dying planet. 

Here were the great males towering in all the 
majesty of their imposing height; here were the 
gleaming white tusks protruding from their massive 
lower jaws to a point near the center of their fore- 
heads, the laterally placed, protruding eyes with 
which they could look forward or backward, or to 
either side without turning their heads, here the 
strange antennae-like ears rising from the tops of 
their foreheads; and the additional pair of arms 
extending from midway between the shoulders and 
the hips. 

Even without the glossy green hide and the metal 
ornaments which denoted the tribes to which they 
belonged, I would have known them on the instant 


for what they were, for where else in all the universe 
is their like duplicated? 

There were two men and four females in the 
party and their ornaments denoted them as members 
of different hordes, a fact which tended to puzzle 
me infinitely, since the various hordes of green men 
of Barsoom are eternally at deadly war with one 
another, and never, except on that single historic 
instance when the great Tars Tarkas of Thark 
gathered a hundred and fifty thousand green war- 
riors from several hordes to march upon the doomed 
city of Zodanga to rescue De.jah Thoris, Princess 
of Helium, from the clutches of Than Kosis, had I 
seen green Martians of different hordes associated 
in other than mortal combat. 

But now they stood back to back, facing, in wide- 
eyed amazement, the very evidently hostile demon- 
strations of a common enemy. 

Both men and women were armed with lrng- 
swords and daggers, but no firearms were in Evi- 
dence, else it had been short shrift for the gruesome 
plant men of Barsoom. 

Presently the leader of the plant men charged the 
little party, and his method of attack was as remark- 
able as it was effective, and by its very strange?*ess 
was the more potent, since in the science of the green 
warriors there was no defense for this singular 
manner of attack, the like of which it soon «ras 
evident to me they were as unfamiliar with as they 


were with the monstrosities which confronted 


The plant man charged to within a dozen feet of 
the party and then, with a bound, rose as though to 
pass directly above their heads. His powerful tail 
was raised high to one side, and as he passed close 
above them he brought it down in one terrific sweep 
that crushed a green warrior's skull as though it had 
been an eggshell. 

The balance of the frightful herd was now cir- 
cling rapidly and with bewildering speed about the 
little knot of victims. Their prodigious bounds and 
the shrill screeching purr of their uncanny mouths 
were well calculated to confuse and terrorize their 
prey, so that as two of them leaped simultaneously 
from either side, the mighty sweep of those awful 
tails met with no resistance and two more green 
Martians went down to an ignoble death. 

There were now but one warrior and two females 
left, and it seemed that it could be but a matter of 
seconds ere these, also, lay dead upon the scarlet 


But as two more of the plant men charged, the 
warrior, who was now prepared by the experiences 
of the past few minutes, swung his mighty long- 
sword aloft and met the hurtling bulk with a clean 
cut that clove one of the plant men from chin to 

The other, however, dealt a single blow with his 


cruel tail that laid both of the females crushed 
corpses upon the ground. 

As the green warrior saw the last of his com- 
panions go down and at the same time perceived 
that the entire herd was charging him in a body, he 
rushed boldly to meet them, swinging his long-sword 
in the terrific manner that I had so often seen the 
men of his kind wield it in their ferocious and almost 
continual warfare among their own race. 

Cutting and hewing to right and left, he laid an 
open path straight through the advancing plant 
men, and then commenced a mad race for the forest, 
in the shelter of which he evidently hoped that he 
might find a haven of refuge. 

He had turned for that portion of the forest 
which abutted on the cliffs, and thus the mad race 
was taking the entire party farther and farther from 
the boulder where I lay concealed. 

As I had watched the noble fight which the great 
warrior had put up against such enormous odds my 
heart had swelled in admiration for him, and acting 
as I am wont to do, more upon impulse than after 
mature deliberation, I instantly sprang from my 
sheltering rock and bounded quickly toward the 
bodies of the dead green Martians, a well-defined 
plan of action already formed. 

Half a dozen great leaps brought me to the spot, 
and another instant saw me again in my stride in 
quick pursuit of the hideous monsters that were 


rapidly gaining on the fleeing warrior, but this time 
I grasped a mighty long-sword in my hand and in 
my heart was the old blood lust of the fighting man 
and a red mist swam before my eyes and I felt my 
lips respond to my heart in the old smile that 
has ever marked me in the midst of the joy ofi 

Swift as I was I was none too soon, for the green 
warrior had been overtaken ere he had made half , 
the distance to the forest, and now he stood with 
his back to a boulder, while the herd, temporarily 
balked, hissed and screeched about him. 

With their single eyes in the center of their heads 
and every eye turned upon their prey, they did not 
note my soundless approach, so that I was upon 
them with my great long-sword and four of them 
lay dead ere they knew that I was among them. 

For an instant they recoiled before my terrific 
onslaught, and in that instant the green warrior 
rose to the occasion and, springing to my side, lay 
to the right and left of him as I had never seen but 
one other warrior do, with great circling strokes 
that formed a figure eight about him and that never 
stopped until none stood living to oppose him, his 
keen blade passing through flesh and bone and metal 
as though each had been alike thin air. 

As we bent to the slaughter, far above us rose 
that shrill, weird cry which I had heard once before,, 
and which had called the herd to the attack upon 


their victims. Again and again it rose, but we were 
too much engaged with the fierce and powerful 
creatures about us to attempt to search out even with 
our eyes the author of the horrid notes. 

Great tails lashed in frenzied anger about us, 
razor-like talons cut our limbs and bodies, and a 
green and sticky syrup, such as oozes from a crushed 
caterpillar, smeared us from head to foot, for every 
cut and thrust of our long-swords brought spurts 
of this stuff upon us from the severed arteries of 
the plant men, through which it courses in its slug- 
gish viscidity in lieu of blood. 

Once I felt the great weight of one of the mon- 
sters upon my back and as keen talons sank into my 
flesh I experienced the frightful sensation of moist 
lips sucking the lifeblood from the wounds to which 
the claws still clung. 

I was very much engaged with a ierocious fellow 
who was endeavoring to reach my throat from in 
front, while two more, one on either side, were lash- 
ing viciously at me with their tails. 

The green warrior was much put to it to hold his 
own, and I felt that the unequal struggle could last 
but a moment longer when the huge fellow discov- 
ered my plight, and tearing himself from those that 
surrounded him, he raked the assailant from my 
back with a single sweep of his blade, and thus re- 
lieved I had little difficulty with the others. 

Once together, we stood almost back to back 


against the great boulder, and thus the creatures 
were prevented from soaring above us to deliver 
their deadly blows, and as we were easily their match 
while they remained upon the ground, we were 
making great headway in dispatching what remained 
of them when our attention was again attracted by 
the shrill wail of the caller above our heads. 

This time I glanced up, and far above us upon a 
little natural balcony on the face of the cliff stood a 
strange figure of a man shrieking out his shrill sig- 
nal, the while he waved one hand in the direction 
of the river's mouth as though beckoning to someone 
there, and with the other pointed and gesticulated 
toward us. 

A glance in the direction toward which he was 
looking was sufficient to appraise me of his aims 
and at the same time to fill me with the dread of 
dire apprehension, for, streaming in from all direc- 
tions across the meadow, from out of the forest, 
and from the far distance of the flat land across 
the river, I could see converging upon us a hundred 
different lines of wildly leaping creatures such as 
we were now engaged with, and with them some 
strange new monsters which ran with great swift- 
ness, now erect and now upon all fours. 

" It will be a great death," I said to my companion. 


As he shot a quick glance in the direction I indi- 
cated he smiled. 


" We may at least die fighting and as great war- 
riors should, John Carter," he replied. 

We had just finished the last of our immediate 
antagonists as he spoke, and I turned in surprised 
wonderment at the sound of my name. 

And there before my astonished eyes I beheld the 
greatest of the green men of Barsoom ; their shrewd- 
est statesman, their mightiest general, my great and 
good friend, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark. 



TARS TARKAS and I found no time for an 
exchange of experiences as we stood there 
before the great boulder surrounded by the corpses 
of our grotesque assailants, for from all directions 
down the broad valley was streaming a perfect tor- 
rent of terrifying creatures in response to the weird 
call of the strange figure far above us. 

" Come," cried Tars Tarkas, " we must make for 
the cliffs. There lies our only hope of even tempo- 
rary escape ; there we may find a cave or a narrow 
ledge which two may defend forever against this 
motley, unarmed horde." 

Together we raced across the scarlet sward, I 
timing my speed that I might not outdistance my 
slower companion. We had, perhaps, three hun- 
dred yards to cover between our boulder and the 
cliffs, and then to search out a suitable shelter for 
our stand against the terrifying things that were 
pursuing us. 

They were rapidly overhauling us when Tars 
Tarkas cried to me to hasten ahead and discover, if 
possible, the sanctuary we sought. The suggestion 
was a good one, for thus many valuable minutes 



might be saved to us, and, throwing every ounce of 
my earthly muscles into the effort, I cleared the re- 
maining distance between myself and the cliffs in 
great leaps and bounds that put me at their base in 
a moment. 

The cliffs rose perpendicular directly from the 
almost level sward of the valley. There was no 
accumulation of fallen debris, forming a more or 
less rough ascent to them, as is the case with nearly 
all other cliffs I ever have seen. The scattering 
boulders that had fallen from above, and lay upon 
or partly buried in the turf, were the only indication 
that any disintegration of the massive, towering 
pile of rocks ever had taken place. 

My first cursory inspection of the face of the 
cliffs filled my heart with forebodings, since no- 
where could I discern, except where the weird herald 
stood still shrieking his shrill summons, the faintest 
indication of even a bare foothold upon the lofty 

To my right the bottom of the cliff was lost in the 
dense foliage of the forest, which terminated at its 
very foot, rearing its gorgeous foliage fully a thou- 
sand feet against its stern and forbidding neighbor. 

To the left the cliff ran, apparently unbroken, 
across the head of the broad valley, to be lost in the 
outlines of what appeared to be a range of mighty 
mountains that skirted and confined the valley in 
every direction. 


Perhaps a thousand feet from me the river broke, 
as it seemed, directly from the base of the cliffs, 
and as there seemed not the remotest chance for 
escape in that direction I turned my attention again 
toward the forest. 

The cliffs towered above me a good five thousand 
feet. The sun was not quite upon them and they 
loomed a dull yellow in their own shade. Here and 
there they were broken with streaks and patches of 
dusky red, green, and occasional areas of white 

Altogether they were very beautiful, but I fear 
that I did not regard them with a particularly appre- 
ciative eye on this, my first inspection of them. 

Just then I was absorbed in them only as a 
medium of escape, and so, as my gaze ran quickly, 
time and again, over their vast expanse in search of 
some cranny or crevice, I came suddenly to loathe 
them as the prisoner must loathe the cruel and im- 
pregnable walls of his dungeon. 

Tars Tarkas was approaching me rapidly, and still 
more rapidly came the awful horde at his heels. 

It seemed the forest now or nothing, and I was 
just on the point of motioning Tars Tarkas to fol- 
low me in that direction when the sun passed the 
cliff's zenith, and as the bright rays touched the 
dull surface it burst out into a million scintillant 
lights of burnished gold, of flaming red, of soft 
greens, and gleaming whites — a more gorgeous and 


inspiring spectacle human eye has never rested 

The face of the entire cliff was, as later inspection 
conclusively proved, so shot with veins and patches 
of solid gold as to quite present the appearance of a 
solid wall of that precious metal except where it was 
broken by outcroppings of ruby, emerald, and dia- 
mond boulders — a faint and alluring indication of 
the vast and unguessable riches which lay deeply 
buried behind the magnificent surface. 

But what caught my most interested attention at 
the moment that the sun's rays set the cliff's face 
a-shimmer, was the several black spots which now 
appeared quite plainly in evidence high across the 
gorgeous wall close to the forest's top, and extend- 
ing apparently below and behind the branches. 

Almost immediately I recognized them for what 
they were, the dark openings of caves entering the 
solid walls — possible avenues of escape or tem- 
porary shelter, could we but reach them. 

There was but a single way, and that led through 
the mighty, towering trees upon our right. That I 
could scale them I knew full well, but Tars Tarkas, 
with his mighty bulk and enormous weight, would 
find it a task possibly quite beyond his prowess or 
his skill, for Martians are at best but poor climbers. 
Upon the entire surface of that ancient planet I 
before never had seen a hill or mountain that 
exceeded four thousand feet in height above the 



dead sea bottoms, and as the ascent was usually 
gradual, nearly to their summits they presented but 
few opportunities for the practice of climbing. Nor 
would the Martians have embraced even such oppor- 
tunities as might present themselves, for they could 
always find a circuitous route about the base of any 
eminence, and these roads they preferred and fol- 
lowed in preference to the shorter but more arduous 

However, there was nothing else to consider than 
an attempt to scale the trees contiguous to the cliff 
in an effort to reach the caves above. 

The Thark grasped the possibilities and the diffi- 
culties of the plan at once, but there was no alterna- 
tive, and so we set out rapidly for the trees nearest 
the cliff. 

Our relentless pursuers were now close to us, so 
close that it seemed that it would be an utter impossi- 
bility for the Jeddak of Thark to reach the forest in 
advance of them, nor was there any considerable 
will in the efforts that Tars Tarfcas made, for the 
green men of Barsoom do not relish flight, nor ever 
before had I seen one fleeing from death in whatso- 
ever form it might have confronted him. But that 
Tars Tarkas was the bravest of the brave he had 
proven thousands of times; yes, tens of thousands 
in countless mortal combats with men and beasts. 
And so I knew that there was another reason than 
fear of death behind his flight, as he knew that a 


greater power than pride or honor spurred me to 
escape these fierce destroyers. In my case it was love 
— love of the divine Dejah Thoris; and the cause 
of the Thark's great and sudden love of life I could 
not fathom, for it is oftener that they seek death 
than life — these strange, cruel, loveless, unhappy 

At length, however, we reached the shadows of 
the forest, while right behind us sprang the swiftest 
of our pursuers — a giant plant man with claws 
outreaching to fasten his blood-sucking mouths upon 

He was, I should say, a hundred yards in advance 
of his closest companion, and so I called to Tars 
Tarkas to ascend a great tree that brushed the cliff's 
face while I dispatched the fellow, thus giving the 
less agile Thark an opportunity to reach the higher 
branches before the entire horde should be upon 
us and every vestige of escape cut off. 

But I had reckoned without a just appreciation 
either of the cunning of my immediate antagonist 
or the swiftness with which his fellows were cover- 
ing the distance which had separated them from 

As I raised my long-sword to deal the creature 
its death thrust it halted in its charge and, as my 
sword cut harmlessly through the empty air, the 
great tail of the thing swept with the power of a 
grizzly's arm across the sward and carried me bodily 


irom my feet to the ground. In an instant the brute 
was upon me, but ere it could fasten its hideous 
mouths into my breast and throat I grasped a writh- 
ing tentacle in either hand. 

The plant man was well muscled, heavy, and 
powerful, but my earthly sinews and greater agility, 
in conjunction with the deathly strangle hold I had 
upon him, would have given me, I think, an eventual 
victory had we had time to discuss the merits of our 
relative prowess uninterrupted. But as we strained 
and struggled about the tree into which Tars Tarkas 
was clambering with infinite difficulty, I suddenly 
caught a glimpse over the shoulder of my antagonist 
of the great swarm of pursuers that now were fairly 
upon me. 

Now, at last, I saw the nature of the other mon- 
sters who had come with the plant men in response 
to the weird calling of the man upon the cliff's face. 
They were that most dreaded of Martian creatures 
— great white apes of Barsoom. 

My former experiences upon Mars had familiar- 
ized me thoroughly with them and their methods, 
and I may say that of all the fearsome and terrible, 
weird and grotesque inhabitants of that strange 
world, it is the white apes that come nearest to famil- 
iarizing me with the sensation of fear. 

I think that the cause of this feeling which these 
apes engender within me is due to their remarkable 
resemblance in form to our Earth men, which gives 


them a human appearance that is most uncanny 
when coupled with their enormous size. 

They stand fifteen feet in height and walk erect 
upon their hind feet. Like the green Martians, they 
have an intermediary set of arms midway between 
their upper and lower limbs. Their eyes are very 
close set, but do not protrude as do those of the 
green men of Mars; their ears are high set, but more 
laterally located than are the green men's, while their 
snouts and teeth are much like those of our African 
gorilla. Upon their heads grows an enormous shock 
of bristly hair. 

It was into the eyes of such as these and the ter- 
rible plant men that I gazed above the shoulder of 
my foe, and then, in a mighty wave of snarling, snap- 
ping, screaming, purring rage, they swept over 
me — and of all the sounds that assailed my ears 
as I went down beneath them, to me the most 
hideous was the horrid purring of the plant men. 

Instantly a score of cruel fangs and keen talons 
were sunk into my flesh ; cold, sucking lips fastened 
themselves upon my arteries. I struggled to free 
myself, and even though weighted down by these 
immense bodies, I succeeded in struggling to my 
feet, where, still grasping my long-sword, and short- 
ening my grip upon it until I could use it as a dagger, 
I wrought such havoc among them that at one time 
I stood for an instant free. 

What it has taken minutes to write occurred in 


but a few seconds, but during that time Tars Tarkas 
had seen my plight and had dropped from the lower 
branches, which he had reached with such infinite 
labor, and as I flung the last of my immediate 
antagonists from me the great Thark leaped to my 
side, and again we fought, back to back, as we had 
done a hundred times before. 

Time and again the ferocious apes sprang in to 
close with us, and time and again we beat them back 
with our swords. The great tails of the plant men 
lashed with tremendous power about us as they 
charged from various directions or sprang with the 
agility of greyhounds above our heads; but every 
attack met a gleaming blade in sword hands that 
had been reputed for twenty years the best that Mars 
ever had known; for Tars Tarkas and John Carter 
were names that the fighting men of the world of 
warriors loved best to speak. 

But even the two best swords in a world of fight- 
ers can avail not forever against overwhelming 
numbers of fierce and savage brutes that know not 
what defeat means until cold steel teaches their 
hearts no longer to beat, and so, step by step, we 
were forced back. At length we stood against the 
giant tree that we had chosen for our ascent, and 
then, as charge after charge hurled its weight upon 
us, we gave back again and again, until we had been 
forced half way around the huge base of the colossal 


Tars Tarkas was in the lead, and suddenly I heard 
a little cry of exultation from him. 

"Here is shelter for one at least, John Carter/' 
he said, and, glancing down, I saw an opening in 
the base of the tree about three feet in diameter. 

" In with you, Tars Tarkas," I cried, but he would 
not go; saying that his bulk was too great for the 
little aperture, while I might slip in easily. 

"We shall both die if we remain without, John 
Carter; here is a slight chance for one of us. Take 
it and you may live to avenge me, it is useless for 
me to attempt to worm my way into so small an 
opening with this horde of demons besetting us on 
all sides." 

"Then we shall die together, Tars Tarkas," I 
replied, " for I shall not go first. Let me defend 
the opening while you get in, then my smaller stature 
will permit me to slip in with you before they can 

We still were fighting furiously as we talked in 
broken sentences, punctured with vicious cuts and 
thrusts at our swarming enemy. 

At length he yielded, for it seemed the only way 
in which either of us might be saved from the ever- 
increasing numbers of our assailants, who were still 
swarming upon us from all directions across the 
broad valley. 

"It was ever your way, John Carter, to think last 
of your own life," he said; " but still more your way 



to command the lives and actions of others, even to 
the greatest of Jeddaks who rule upon Barsoom." 

There was a grim smile upon his cruel, hard face, 
as he, the greatest Jeddak of them all, turned to obey 
the dictates of a creature of another world — of a 
man whose stature was less than half his own. 

"If you fail, John Carter," he said, "know that 
the cruel, and heartless Thark, to whom you taught 
the meaning of friendship, will come out to die 
beside you." 

"As you will, my friend," I replied, "but quickly 
now, head first, while I cover your retreat. 

He hesitated a little at that word, for never before 
in his whole life of continual strife had he turned 
his back upon aught than a dead or defeated enemy. 

"Haste, Tars Tarkas," I urged, "or we shall, 
both go down to profitless defeat; I cannot hold 
them forever alone." 

As he dropped to the ground to force his way into 
the tree, the whole howling pack of hideous devils 
hurled themselves upon me. To right and left flew 
my shimmering blade, now green with the sticky 
juice of a plant man, now red with the crimson blood 
of a great white ape; but always flying from one 
opponent to another, hesitating but the barest frac- 
tion of a second to drink the lifeblood in the center 
of some savage heart. 

And thus I fought as I never had fought before, 
against such frightful odds that I cannot realize 


even now that human muscles could have withstood 
that awful onslaught, that terrific weight of hurtling 
tons of ferocious, battling flesh. 

With the fear that we would escape them, the 
creatures redoubled their efforts to pull me down, 
and though the ground about me was piled high 
with their dead and dying comrades, they succeeded 
at last in overwhelming me, and I went down be- 
neath them for the second time that day, and once 
again felt those awful sucking lips against my, 

But scarce had I fallen ere I felt powerful hands 
grip my ankles, and in another second I was being 
drawn within the shelter of the tree's interior. For 
a moment it was a tug of war between Tars Tarkas 
and a great plant man, who clung tenaciously to my 
breast, but presently I got the point of my long- 
sword beneath him and with a mighty thrust pierced 
his vitals. 

Torn and bleeding from many cruel wounds, I 
lay panting upon the ground within the hollow of 
the tree, while Tars Tarkas defended the opening 
from the furious mob without. 

For an hour they howled about the tree, but 
after a few attempts to reach us they confined their 
efforts to terrorizing shrieks and screams ; to horrid 
growling on the part of the great white apes and the 
fearsome and indescribable purring by the plant 


■ * ■ — ■ 

At length all but a score, who had apparently 
been left to prevent our escape, had left us, and our 
adventure seemed destined to result in a siege, the 
only outcome of which could be our death by starva- 
tion; for even should we be able to slip out after 
dark, whither in this unknown and hostile valley 
could we hope to turn our steps toward possible 
escape ? 

As the attacks of our enemies ceased and our eyes 
became accustomed to the semi-darkness of the 
interior of our strange retreat, I took the oppor- 
tunity to explore our shelter. 

The tree was hollow to an extent of about fifty 
feet in diameter and from its flat, hard floor I judged 
that it had often been used to domicile others before 
our occupancy. As I raised my eyes toward its 
roof to note the height I saw far above me a faint 
glow of light. 

There was an opening above. If we could but 
reach it we might still hope to make the shelter of 
the cliff caves. My eyes had now become quite used 
to the subdued light of the interior, and as I pur- 
sued my investigation I presently came upon a rough 
ladder at the far side of the cave. 

Quickly I mounted it, only to find that it con- 
nected at the top with the lower of a series of hori- 
zontal wooden bars that spanned the now narrow 
and shaft-like interior of the tree's stem. These 
bars were set one above another about three feet 


apart, and formed a perfect ladder as far above me 
as I could see. 

Dropping to the floor once more, I detailed my 
discovery to Tars Tarkas, who suggested that I 
explore aloft as far as I could go in safety while he 
guarded the entrance against a possible attack. 

As I hastened above to explore the strange shaft 
I found that the ladder of horizontal bars mounted 
always as far above me as my eyes could reach, and 
as I ascended, the light from above grew brighter 
and brighter. 

For fully five hundred feet I continued to climb, 
until at length I reached the opening in the stem 
which admitted the light. It was of about the same 
diameter as the entrance at the foot of the tree, and 
opened directly upon a large flat limb, the well-worn 
surface of which testified to its long-continued use 
as an avenue for some creature to and from this 
remarkable shaft. 

I did not venture out upon the limb for fear that 
I midit be discovered and our retreat in this direc- 


tion cut off ; but instead hurried to retrace my steps 
to Tars Tarkas. 

I soon reached him and presently we were both 
ascending the long ladder toward the opening: 

Tars Tarkas went in advance and as I reached 
the first of the horizontal bars I drew the ladder up 
after me and, handing it to him, he carried it a hun- 



dred feet further aloft, where he wedged it safely 
between one of the bars and the side of the shaft. 
In like manner I dislodged the lower bars as I passed 
them, so that we soon had the interior of the tree 
denuded of all possible means of ascent for a dis j 
tance of a hundred feet from the base; thus preclud- 
ing possible pursuit and attack from the rear. 

As we were to learn later, this precaution saved 
us from dire predicament, and was eventually the 
means of our salvation. 

When we reached the opening at the top Tars 
Tarkas drew to one side that I might pass out and 
investigate, as, owing to my lesser weight and 
greater agility, I was better fitted for the perilous 
threading of this dizzy, hanging pathway. 

The limb upon which I found myself, ascended 
at a slight angle toward the cliff and as I followed 
it I found that it terminated a few feet above a nar- 
row ledge which protruded from the cliff's face at 
the entrance to a narrow cave. 

As I approached the slightly more slender ex- 
tremity of the branch it bent beneath my weight 
until, as I balanced perilously upon its outer tip, it 
swayed gently on a level w T ith the ledge at a distance 
of a couple of feet. 

Five hundred feet below me lay the vivid scarlet 
carpet of the valley; nearly five thousand feet above 
towered the mighty, gleaming face of the gorgeou 


The cave that I faced was not one of those that 
I had seen from the ground, and which lay much 
higher, possibly a thousand feet. But so far as I 
might know it was as good for our purpose as 
another, and so I returned to the tree for Tars 

Together we wormed our way along the waving 
pathway, but when we reached the end of the branch 
we found that our combined weight so depressed 
the limb that the cave's mouth was now too far 
above us to be reached. 

We finally agreed that Tars Tarkas should return 
along the branch, leaving his longest leather harness 
strap with me, and that when the limb had risen 
to a height that would permit me to enter the cave 
I was to do so, and on Tars Tarkas' return I could 
then lower the strap and haul him up to the safety 
of the ledge. 

This we did without mishap and soon found our- 
selves together upon the verge of a dizzy little bal- 
cony, with a magnificent view of the valley spreading 
out below us. 

As far as the eye could reach gorgeous forest and 
crimson sward skirted a sihnt sea, and about all 
towered the brilliant monster guardian cliffs. Once 
we thought we discerned a gilded minaret gleaming 
in the sun amidst the waving tops of far-distant 
trees, but we soon abandoned the idea in the belief 
that it was but an hallucination born of our great 


desire to discover the haunts of civilized men in this 
beautiful, yet forbidding, spot. 

Below us upon the river's bank the great white 
apes were devouring the last remnants of Tars 
Tarkas' former companions, while great herds of 
plant men grazed in ever-widening circles about the 
sward which they kept as close clipped as the smooth- 
est of lawns. 

Knowing that attack from the tree was now im- 
probable, we determined to explore the cave, which 
we had every reason to believe was but a continua- 
tion of the path we had already traversed, leading 
the gods alone knew where, but quite evidently 
away from this valley of grim ferocity. 

As we advanced we found a well-proportioned 
tunnel cut from the solid cliff. Its walls rose some 
twenty feet above the floor, which was about five 
feet in width. The roof was arched. We had no 
means of making a light, and so groped our way 
slowly into the ever-increasing darkness, Tars 
Tarkas keeping in touch with one wall while I felt 
along the other, while, to prevent our wandering 
into diverging branches and becoming separated or 
lost in some intricate and labyrinthine maze, we 
clasped hands. 

How far we traversed the tunnel in this manner 
I do not know, but presently we came to an obstruc- 
tion which blocked our further progress. It seemed 
more like a partition than a sudden ending of the 


cave, for it was constructed not of the material of 
the cliff, but of something which felt like very hard 

Silently I groped over its surface with my hands, 
and presently was rewarded by the feel of the button 
which as commonly denotes a door on Mars as 
does a door knob on Earth. 

Gently pressing it, I had the satisfaction of feel- 
ing the door slowly give before me, and in another 
instant we were looking into a dimly lighted apart- 
ment, which, so far as we could see, was unoccupied. 

Without more ado I swung the door wide open 
and, followed by the huge Thark, stepped into the 
chamber, As we stood for a moment in silence 
gazing about the room a slight noise behind caused 
me to turn quickly, when, to my astonishment, I saw 
the door close with a sharp click as though by an 
unseen hand. 

Instantly I sprang toward it to wrench it open 
again, for something in the uncanny movement of 
the thing and the tense and almost palpable silence 
of the chamber seemed to portend a lurking evil 
lying hidden in this rock-bound chamber within the 
bowels of the Golden Cliffs. 

My fingers clawed f utilely at the unyielding portal, 
while my eyes sought in vain for a duplicate of the 
button which had given us ingress. 

And then, from unseen lips, a cruel and mocking 
peal of laughter rang through the desolate place. 



FOR moments after that awful laugh had ceased 
reverberating through the rocky room, Tars 
Tarkas and I stood in tense and expectant silence. 
But no further sound broke the stillness, nor within 
the range of our vision did aught move. 

At length Tars Tarkas laughed softly, after the 
manner of his strange kind when in the presence 
of the horrible or terrifying. It is not an hysterical 
laugh, but rather the genuine expression of the 
pleasure they derive from the things that move earth 
men to loathing or to tears. 

Often and again have I seen them roll upon the 
ground in mad fits of uncontrollable mirth when 
witnessing the death agonies of women and little 
children beneath the torture of that hellish green 
Martian fete — the Great Games. 

I looked up at the Thark, a smile upon my own 
lips, for here in truth was greater need for a smiling 
face than a trembling chin. 

" What do you make of it all ? " I asked. " Where 
in the deuce are we ? " 

He looked at me in surprise. 

"Where are we?" he repeated. "Do you tell 



me, John Carter, that you know not where you 

" That I am upon Barsoom is all that I can guess, 
and but for you and the great white apes I should 
not even guess that, for the sights I have seen this 
day are as unlike the things of my beloved Barsoom 
us I knew it ten long years ago as they are unlike 
the world of my birth. 

" No, Tars Tarkas, I know not where we be." 

"Where have you been since you opened the 
mighty portals of the atmosphere plant years ago, 
after the keeper had died and the engines stopped 
and all Barsoom was dying, that had not already 
died, of asphyxiation? Your body even was never 
found, though the men of a whole world sought 
after it for years, though the Jeddak of Helium and 
his granddaughter, your princess, offered such fabu- 
lous rewards that even princes of royal blood joined 
in the search. 

" There was but one conclusion to reach when all 
efforts to locate you had failed, and that, that you 
had taken the long, last pilgrimage down the mysteri* 
ous River Iss, to await in the Valley Dor upon the 
shores of the Lost Sea of Korus the beautiful Dejah 
Thoris, your princess. 

" Why you had gone none could guess, for your 
princess still lived " 

"Thank God," I interrupted him. "I did not 
dare to ask you, for I feared I might have been too 


fate to save her — she was very low when I left her 
in the royal gardens of Tardos Mors that long- 
gone night ; so very low that I scarcely hoped even 
then to reach the atmosphere plant ere her dear spirit 
had fled from me forever. And she lives yet ? " 

" She lives, John Carter." 

" You have not told me where we are," I reminded 

"We are where I expected to find you, John 
Carter — and another. Many years ago you heard 
the story of the woman who taught me the thing 
that green Martians are reared to hate, the woman 
who taught me to love. You know the cruel tortures 
and the awful death her love won for her at the 
hands of the beast, Tal Hajus. 

" She, I thought, awaited me by the Lost Sea of 

"You know that it was left for a man from 
another world, for yourself, John Carter, to teach 
this cruel Thark what friendship is; and you, I 
thought, also roamed the carefree Valley Dor. 

" Thus were the two I most longed for at the end 
of the long pilgrimage I must take some day, and so 
as the time had elapsed which Dejah Thoris had 
hoped might bring you once more to her side, for 
she has always tried to believe that you had but tem- 
porarily returned to your own planet, I at last^gave 
way to my great yearning and a month since I 
started upon the journey, the end of which you have 


this day witnessed. Do you understand now where 
you be, John Carter?" 

"And that was the River Iss, emptying into the 
Lost Sea of Korus in the Valley Dor?" I asked. 

" This is the valley of love and peace and rest to 
which every Barsoomian since time immemorial has 
longed to pilgrimage at the end of a life of hate and 
strife and bloodshed," he replied. "This, John Car^ 
ter, is Heaven." 

His tone was cold and ironical ; its bitterness but 
reflecting the terrible disappointment he had suf- 
fered. Such a fearful disillusionment, such a blast- 
ing of life-long hopes and aspirations, such an up- 
rooting of age-old tradition might have excused a 
vastly greater demonstration on the part of the 

I laid my hand upon his shoulder. 

"I am sorry," I said, nor did there seem aughf 
else to say. 

" Think, John Carter, of the countless billions of 
Barsoomians who have taken the voluntary pilgrim- 
age down this cruel river since the beginning of time, 
only to fall into the ferocious clutches of the terrible 
creatures that today assailed us. 

" There is an ancient legend that once a red man 
returned from the banks of the Lost Sea of Korus, 
returned from the Valley Dor, back through the 
mysterious River Iss, and the legend has it that he 
narrated a fearful blasphemy of horrid brutes that 


inhabited a valley of wondrous loveliness, brutes 
that pounced upon each Barsoomian as he terminated 
his pilgrimage and devoured him upon the banks of 
the Lost Sea where he had looked to find love and 
peace and happiness ; but the ancients killed the blas- 
phemer, as tradition has ordained that any shall be 
killed who return from the bosom of the River of 

" But now we know that it was no blasphemy, that 
the legend is a true one, and that the man told only 
of what he saw ; but what does it profit us, John Car- 
ter, since even should we escape, we also would be 
treated as blasphemers? We are between the wild 
thoat of certainty and the mad zitidar of fact — we 
, can escape neither." 

"As Earth men say, we are between the devil and 
the deep sea, Tars Tarkas," I replied, nor could I 
help but smile at our dilemma. 

" There is naught that we can do but take things 

as they come, and at least have the satisfaction of 

knowing that whoever slays us eventually will have 

far greater numbers of their own dead to count than 

'they will get in return. White ape or plant man, 

green Barsoomian or red man, whosoever it shall 

be that takes the last toll from us will know that it 

{> is costly in lives to wipe out John Carter, Prince of 

, the House of Tardos Mors, and Tars Tarkas, Jed- 

1 dak of Thark, at the same time." 

I could not help but laugl? at his grim humor, and 


he joined in with me in one of those rare laughs of 
real enjoyment which was one of the attributes of 
this fierce Tharkian chief which marked him from 
the others of his kind. 

"But about yourself, John Carter, ,, he cried at 
last. "If you have not been here all these years, 
where indeed have you been, and how is it that I find 
you here today ? " 

" I have been back to Earth," I replied. " For ten 
long Earth years I have been praying and hoping 
for the day that would carry me once more to this 
grim old planet of yours, for which, with all its cruel 
and terrible customs, I feel a bond of sympathy and 
love even greater than for the world that gave me 

" For ten years have I been enduring a living death 
of uncertainty and doubt as to whether Dejah Thoris 
lived, and now that for the first time in all these 
years my prayers have been answered and my doubt 
relievea I find myself, through a cruel whim of fate, 
hurled into the one tiny spot of all Barsoom from 
which there is apparently no escape, and if there 
were, at a price which would put out forever the last 
flickering hope which I may cling to of seeing my 
princess again in this life — and you have seen today 
with what pitiful futility man yearns toward a ma- 
terial hereafter. 

" Only a bare half hour before I saw you battling 
with the plant men I was standing in the moonlight 


upon the banks of a broad river that taps the eastern 
shore of Earth's most blessed land. I have answered 
you, my friend. Do you believe?" 

"I believe," replied Tars Tarkas, "though I can- 
not understand." 

As we talked I had been searching the interior of 
the chamber with my eyes. It was, perhaps, two hun- 
dred feet in length and half as broad, with what ap- 
peared to be a doorway in the center of the wall 
directly opposite that through which we had entered. 

The apartment was hewn from the material of 
the cliff, showing mostly dull gold in the dim light 
which a single minute radium illuminator in the cen- 
ter of the roof diffused throughout its great dimen- 
sions. Here and there polished surfaces of ruby, 
emerald, and diamond patched the golden walls and 
ceiling. The floor was of another material, very 
hard, and worn by much use to the smoothness of 
glass. Aside from the two doors I could discern no 
sign of other aperture, and as one we knew to be 
locked against us I approached the other. 

As I extended my hand to search for the control- 
ling button, that cruel and mocking laugh rang out 
once more, so close to me this time that I involun- 
tarily shrank back, tightening my grip upon the hilt 
of my great sword. 

And then from the far corner of the great cham- 
ber a hollow voice chanted: "There is no hope, 
there is no hope: the dead return not, the dead re- 


turn not; nor is there any resurrection. Hope not 
for there is no hope/' 

Though our eyes instantly turned toward the spot 
from which the voice seemed to emanate, there was 
no one in sight, and I must admit that cold shivers 
played along my spine and the short hairs at the 
base of my head stiffened and rose up, as do those 
upon a hound's neck when in the night his eyes see 
those uncanny things which are hidden from the 
sight of man. 

Quickly I walked toward the mournful voice, but 
it had ceased ere I reached the further wall, and 
then from the other end of the chamber came an-? 
other voice, shrill and piercing : 

" Fools ! Fools ! " it shrieked. " Thinkest thou to 
defeat the eternal laws of life and death? Wouldst 
cheat the mysterious Issus, Goddess of Death, of 
her just dues? Did not her mighty messenger, the 
ancient Iss, bear you upon her leaden bosom at youf 
own behest to the Valley Dor ? 

"Thinkest thou, O fools, that Issus wilt give up 
her own? Thinkest thou to escape from whence in 
all the countless ages but a single soul hast fled ? 

"Go back the way thou earnest, to the merciful 1 
maws of the children of the Tree of Life or the 
gleaming fangs of the great white apes, for there 
lies speedy surcease from suffering; but insist in 
your rash purpose to thread the mazes of the Golden 
Cliffs of the Mountains of Otz, past the ramparts 


of the impregnable fortresses of the Holy Therns, 
and upon your way Death in its most frightful form 
will overtake you — a death so horrible that even the 
Holy Therns themselves, who conceived both Life 
and Death, avert their eyes from its fiendishness and 
close their ears against the hideous shrieks of its 

" Go back, O fools, the way thou earnest." 

And then the awful laugh broke out from another 
part of the chamber, 

"Most uncanny," I remarked, turning to Tars 

"What shall we do?" he asked. "We cannot 
fight empty air; I would almost sooner return and 
face foes into whose flesh I may feel my blade bite 
and know that I am selling my carcass dearly before 
I go down to that eternal oblivion which is evidently 
the fairest and most desirable eternity that mortal 
man has the right to hope for." 

" If, as you say, we cannot fight empty air, Tars 
Tarkas," I replied, "neither, on the other hand, can 
empty air fight us. I, who have faced and conquered 
in my time thousands of sinewy warriors and tem- 
pered blades, shall not be turned back by wind ; nor 
no more shall you, Thark." 

"But unseen voices may emanate from unseen 
and unseeable creatures who wield invisible blades," 
answered the green warrior. 

" Rot, Tars Tarkas," I cried, " those voices come 


from beings as real as you or as I. In their veins 
flows lifeblood that may be let as easily as ours, and 
the fact that they remain invisible to us is the best 
proof to my mind that they are mortal; nor overly 
courageous mortals at that. Think you, Tars Tar- 
kas, that John Carter will fly at the first shriek of a 
cowardly foe who dare not come out into the open 
and face a good blade?" 

I had spoken in a loud voice that there might be 
no question that our would-be terrorizers should 
hear me, for I was tiring of this nerve-racking fiasco. 
It had occurred to me, too, that the whole business 
was but a plan to frighten us back into the valley of 
death from which we had escaped, that we might 
be quickly disposed of by the savage creatures 

For a long period there was silence, then of a sud- 
den a soft, stealthy sound behind me caused me to 
turn suddenly to behold a great, many-legged banth 
creeping sinuously upon me. 

The banth is a fierce beast of prey that roams 
the low hills surrounding the dead seas of ancient 
Mars. Like nearly all Martian animals it is almost 
hairless, having only a great bristly mane about its 
thick neck. 

Its long, lithe body is supported by ten powerful 
legs, its enormous jaws are equipped, like those of 
the calot, or Martian hound, with several rows of 
long needle-like fangs ; its mouth reaches to a point 


far back of its tiny ears, while its enormous, pro- 
truding eyes of green add the last touch of terror to 
its awful aspect. 

As it crept toward me it lashed its powerful tail 
against its yellow sides, and when it saw that it was 
discovered it emitted the terrifying roar which often 
freezes its prey into momentary paralysis in the 
instant that it makes its spring. 

And so it launched its great bulk toward me, but 
its mighty voice had held no paralyzing terrors for 
me, and it met cold steel instead of the tender flesh 
its cruel jaws gaped so widely to engulf. 

An instant later I drew my blade from the still 
heart of this great Barsoomian lion, and turning to- 
ward Tars Tarkas was surprised to see him facing 
a similar monster. 

No sooner had he dispatched his than I, turning, 
as though drawn by the instinct of my guardian sub- 
conscious mind, beheld another of the savage deni- 
zens of the Martian wilds leaping across the cham- 
ber toward me. 

From then on for the better part of an hour one 
hideous creature after another was launched upon us, 
springing apparently from the empty air about us. 

Tars Tarkas was satisfied; here was something 
tangible that he could cut and slash with his great 
blade, while I, for my part, may say that the diver- 
sion was a marked improvement over the uncanny 
voices from unseen lips. 


■ ■I T- ■ — ~ 

That there was nothing supernatural about our 
new foes was well evidenced by their howls of rage 
and pain as they felt the sharp steel at their vitals, 
and the very real blood which flowed from their 
severed arteries as they died the real death. 

I noticed during the period of this new persecu- 
tion that the beasts appeared only when our backs 
w T ere turned; we never saw one really materialize 
from thin air, nor did I for an instant sufficiently 
lose my excellent reasoning faculties to be once de- 
luded into the belief that the beasts came into the 
room other than through some concealed and well- 
contrived doorway. 

Among the ornaments of Tars Tarkas' leather 
harness, which is the only manner of clothing worn 
by Martians other than silk capes and robes of silk 
and fur for protection from the cold after dark, was 
a small mirror, about the bigness of a lady's hand 
glass, which hung midway between his shoulders and 
his waist against his broad back. 

Once as he stood looking down at a newly fallen 
antagonist my eyes happened to fall upon this mirror 
and in its shiny surface I saw pictured a sight that 
caused me to whisper : 

"Move not, Tars Tarkas! Move not a 
muscle ! " 

He did not ask why, but stood like a graven image 
while my eyes watched the strange thing that meant 
so much to us. 


What I saw was the quick movement of a section 
of the wall behind me. It was turning upon pivots 
and with it a section of the floor directly in front of 
it was turning. It was as though you placed a visit- 
ing card upon end on a silver dollar that you had 
laid flat upon a table, so that the edge of the card 
perfectly bisected the surface of the coin. 

The card might represent the section of the wall 
that turned and the silver dollar the section of the 
floor. Both were so nicely fitted into the adjacent 
portions of the floor and wall that no crack had been 
noticeable in the dim light of the chamber. 

As the turn was half completed a great beast 
was revealed sitting upon its haunches upon that part 
of the revolving floor that had been on the opposite 
side before the wall commenced to move; when the 
section stopped, the beast was facing toward me on 
our side of the partition — it was very simple. 

But what had interested me most was the sight 
that the half -turned section had presented through 
the opening that it had made. A great chamber, well 
lighted, in which were several men and women 
chained to the wall, and in front of them, evidently 
directing and operating the movement of the secret 
doorway, a wicked-faced man, neither red as are 
the red men of Mars, nor green as are the green men, 
but white, like myself, with a great mass of flowing 
yellow hair. 

The prisoners behind him were red MartianSo 


Chained with them were a number of fierce beasts, 
such as had been turned upon us, and others equally 
as ferocious. 

As I turned to meet my new foe it was with a heart 
considerably lightened. 

" Watch the wall at your end of the chamber, Tars 
Tarkas," I cautioned, "it is through secret door- 
ways in the wall that the brutes are loosed upon us." 
I was very close to him and spoke in a low whisper 
that my knowledge of their secret might not be dis- 
closed to our tormentors. 

As long as we remained each facing an opposite 
end of the apartment no further attacks were made 
upon us, so it was quite clear to me that the parti- 
tions were in some way pierced that our actions 
might be observed from without. 

At length a plan of action occurred to me, and 
backing quite close to Tars Tarkas I unfolded my 
scheme in a low whisper, keeping my eyes still glued 
upon my end of the room. 

The great Thark grunted his assent to my propo- 
sition when I had done, and in accordance with my 
plan commenced backing toward the wall which I 
faced while I advanced slowly ahead of him. 

When we had reached a point some ten feet from 
the secret doorway I halted my companion, and cau- 
tioning him to remain absolutely motionless until I 
gave the prearranged signal I quickly turned my 
back to the door through which I could almost feel 


the burning and baleful eyes of our would-be execu- 

Instantly my own eyes sought the mirror upon 
Tars Tarkas' back and in another second I was 
closely watching the section of the wall which had 
been disgorging its savage terrors upon us. 

I had not long to wait, for presently the golden 
surface commenced to move rapidly. Scarcely had 
it started than I gave the signal to Tars Tarkas, 
simultaneously springing for the receding half of 
the pivoting door. In like manner the Thark wheeled 
and leaped for the opening being made by the in- 
swinging section. 

A single bound carried me completely through 
into the adjoining room and brought me face to face 
with the fellow whose cruel face I had seen before. 
He was about my own height and well muscled and 
in every outward detail molded precisely as are 
Earth men. 

At his side hung a long-sword, a short-sword, a 
dagger and one of the destructive radium revolvers 
that are so common upon Mars. 

The fact that I was armed only with a long-sword, 
and so according to the laws and ethics of battle 
everywhere upon Barsoom should only have been 
met with a similar or lesser weapon, seemed to have 
no effect upon the moral sense of my enemy, for he 
whipped out his revolver ere I scarce had touched 
the floor by his side, but an uppercut from my long- 


sword sent it flying from his grasp before he could 
discharge it. 

Instantly he drew his long-sw r ord and thus evenly 
armed we set to in earnest for one of the closest 
battles I ever have fought. 

The fellow was a marvelous swordsman and evi- 
dently in practice, while I had not gripped the hilt 
of a sword for ten long years before that morning. 

But it did not take me long to fall easily into my 
fighting stride, so that in a few minutes the man 
began to realize that he had at last met his match. 

His face became livid with rage as he found my 
guard impregnable, while blood flowed from a dozen 
minor wounds upon his face and body, 

"Who are you, white man?" he hissed. "That 
you are no Barsoomian from the outer world is evi- 
dent from your color. And you are not of us." 

His last statement was almost a question. 

"What if I were from the Temple of Issus?" I 
hazarded on a wild guess. 

" Fate forf end ! " he exclaimed, his face going 
white under the blood that now nearly covered it. 

I did not know how to follow up my lead, but I 
carefully laid the idea away for future use should 
circumstances require it. His answer indicated that 
for all he knew I might be from the Temple of Issus, 
and so evidently there was a Temple of Issus and in 
it were men like unto myself, and either this man 
feared the inmates of the temple or else he held their 


persons or their power in such reverence that he 
trembled to think of the harm and indignities he had 
heaped upon one of them. 

But my present business with him was of a dif- 
ferent nature than that which requires any consider- 
able abstract reasoning; it was to get my sword be- 
tween his ribs, and this I succeeded in doing within 
the next few seconds, nor was I an instant too soon. 

The chained prisoners had been w T atching the com- 
bat in tense silence; not a sound had fallen in the 
room other than the clashing of our contending 
blades, the soft shuffling of our naked feet and the 
few whispered words we had hissed at each other 
through clenched teeth the while we continued our 
mortal duel. 

But as the body of my antagonist sank an inert 
mass to the floor a cry of warning broke from one 
of the female prisoners. 

"Turn! Turn! Behind you!" she shrieked, and 
as I wheeled at the first note of her shrill cry I found 
myself facing 3 second man of the same race as he 
who lay at my feet. 

The fellow had crept stealthily from a dark cor- 
ridor and was almost upon me with raised sword ere 
I saw him. Tars Tarkas was nowhere in sight and 
the secret panel in the wall, through which I had 
come, was closed. 

How I wished that he were by my side now! I 
had fought almost continuously for many hours; I 


had passed through such experiences and adventures 
as most sap the vitality of man, and with all this I 
had not eaten for nearly twenty-four hours, nor 

I was fagged out, and for the first time in years 
felt a question as to my ability to cope with an an« 
tagonist; but there was naught else for it than to 
engage my man, and that as quickly and ferociously 
as lay in me, for my only salvation was to rush him 
off his feet by the impetuosity of my attack — I 
could not hope to win a long-drawn-out battle. 

But the fellow was evidently of another mind, for 
he backed and parried and parried and sidestepped 
until I was almost completely fagged from the exer- 
tion of attempting to finish him. 

He was a more adroit swordsman, if possible, than 
my previous foe, and I must admit that he led me a 
pretty chase and in the end came near to making a 
sorry fool of me — and a dead one into the bar- 

I could feel myself growing weaker and weaker, 
until at length objects commenced to blur before 
my eyes and I staggered and blundered about more 
asleep than awake, and then it was that he worked 
his pretty little coup that came near to losing me my 

He had backed me around so that I stood in front 
of the corpse of his fellow, and then he rushed me 
suddenly so that I was forced back upon it and as my 


heel struck it the impetus of my body flung me back- 
ward across the dead man. 

My head struck the hard pavement with a resound- 
ing whack, and to that alone I owe my life, for it 
cleared my brain and the pain roused my temper, so 
that I was equal for the moment to tearing my enemy j 
to pieces with my bare hands, and I verily believe 
that I should have attempted it had not my right 
hand, in the act of raising my body from the ground, 
come in contact with a bit of cold metal. 

As the eyes of the layman so is the hand of the 
fighting man when it comes in contact with an im- 
plement of his vocation, and thus I did not need to 
look or reason to know that the dead man's revolver, 
lying where it had fallen when I struck it from his 
grasp, was at my disposal. 

The fellow whose ruse had put me down was 
springing toward me, the point of his gleaming 
blade directed straight at my heart, and as he came 
there rang from his lips the cruel and mocking peal 
of laughter that I had heard within the Chamber of 

And so he died, his thin lips curled in the snarl 
of his hateful laugh, and a bullet from the revolver 
of his dead companion bursting in his heart. 

His body, borne by the impetus of his headlong 
rush, plunged upon me. The hilt of his sword must 
have struck my head, for with the impact of the 
corpse I lost consciousness. 



IT WAS the sound of conflict that aroused me 
once more to the realities of life. For a moment 
I could neither place my surroundings nor locate the 
sounds which had aroused me. And then from be- 
yond the blank wall beside which I lay I heard the 
shuffling of feet, the snarling of grim beasts, the 
clank of metal accouterments, and the heavy breath- 
ing of a man. 

As I rose to my feet I glanced hurriedly about the 
chamber in which I had just encountered such a 
warm reception. The prisoners and the savage brutes 
rested in their chains by the opposite wall eyeing me 
with varying expressions of curiosity, sullen rage, 
surprise, and hope. 

The latter emotion seemed plainly evident upon 
the handsome and intelligent face of the young red 
Martian woman whose cry of warning had been 
instrumental in saving my life. 

She was a perfect type of that remarkably beau- 
tiful race whose outward appearance is identical 
with the more god-like races of Earth men, except 
that this higher race of Martians is of a light reddish 
copper color. As she was entirely unadorned I could 



not even guess her station in life, though it was evi- 
dent that she was either a prisoner or slave in her 
present environment. 

It was several seconds before the sounds upon the 
opposite side of the partition jolted my slowly re- 
turning faculties into a realization of their probable 
import, and then of a sudden I grasped the fact that 
they were caused by Tars Tarkas in what was evi- 
dently a desperate struggle with wild beasts or sav- 
age men. 

With a cry of encouragement I threw my weight 
against the secret door, but as well have essayed the 
down-hurling of the cliffs themselves. Then I sought 
feverishly for the secret of the revolving panel, but 
my search was fruitless, and I was about to raise my 
long-sword against the sullen gold when the young 
woman prisoner called out to me. 

" Save thy sword, O Mighty Warrior, for thou 
shalt need it more where it will avail to some pur- 
pose — shatter it not against senseless metal which 
yields better to the lightest finger touch of one who 
knows its secret." 

Know you the secret of it then? " I asked. 
Yes ; release me and I will give you entrance to 
the other horror chamber, if you wish. The keys to 
my fetters are upon the first dead of thy foemen. 
But why would you return to face again the fierce 
banth, or whatever other form of destruction they 
have loosed within that awful trap?" 


"Because my friend fights there alone," I an- 
swered, as I hastily sought and found the keys upon 
the carcass of the dead custodian of this grim cham- 
ber of horrors. 

There were many keys upon the oval ring, but the 
fair Martian maid quickly selected that which sprung 
the great lock at her waist, and freed she hurried 
toward the secret panel. 

Again she sought out a key upon the ring. This 
time a slender, needle-like affair which she inserted 
in an almost invisible hole in the wall. Instantly the 
door swung upon its pivot and the contiguous sec- 
tion of the floor upon which I was standing, carried 
me with it into the chamber where Tars Tarkas 

The great Thark stood with his back against an 
angle of the walls, while facing him in a semi-circle 
a half dozen huge monsters crouched waiting for an 
opening. Their blood-streaked heads and shoulders 
testified to the cause of their wariness as well as to 
the swordsmanship of the green warrior whose 
glossy hide bore the same mute but eloquent witness 
to the ferocity of the attacks that he had so far with- 

Sharp talons and cruel fangs had torn leg, arm 
and breast literally to ribbons. So weak was he from 
continued exertion and loss of blood that but for the 
supporting w r all I doubt that he even could have 
stood erect. But with the tenacity and indomitable 


courage of his kind he still faced his cruel and re- 
lentless foes — the personification of that ancient 
proverb of his tribe : " Leave to a Thark his head 
and one hand and he may yet conquer." 

As he saw me enter, a grim smile touched those 
grim lips of his, but whether the smile signified re- 
lief or merely amusement at the sight of my own 
bloody and disheveled condition I do not know. 

As I was about to spring into the conflict with 
my sharp long-sword I felt a gentle hand upon 
my shoulder and turning found, to my surprise, 
that the young woman had followed me into the 

"Wait," she whispered, "leave them to me," and 
pushing past me she advanced, all defenseless and 
unarmed, upon the snarling banths. 

When quite close to them she spoke a single Mar- 
tian word in low but peremptory tones. Like light- 
ning the great beasts wheeled upon her, and I looked 
to see her torn to pieces before I could reach her 
side, but instead the creatures slunk to her feet like 
puppies that expect a merited whipping. 

Again she spoke to them, but in tones so low I 
could not catch the words, and then she started to- 
ward the opposite side of the chamber with the six 
mighty monsters trailing at heel. One by one she 
sent them through the secret panel into the room be- 
yond, and when the last had passed from the chamber 
where we stood in wide-eyed amazement she turned 


— — ~~~ 

and smiled at us and then herself passed through, 
leaving us alone. 

For a moment neither of us spoke. Then Tars 
Tarkas said: 

"I heard the fighting beyond the partition 
through which you passed, but I did not fear for 
you, John Carter, until I heard the report of a re- 
volver shot. I knew that there lived no man upon 
all Barsoom who could face you with naked steel 
and live, but the shot stripped the last vestige of 
hope from me, since you I knew to be without fire- 
arms. Tell me of it." 

I did as he bade, and then together we sought the 
secret panel through which I had just entered the 
apartment — the one at the opposite end of the room 
from that through which the girl had led her savage 

To our disappointment the panel eluded our every 
effort to negotiate its secret lock. We felt that once 
beyond it we might look with some little hope of 
success for a passage to the outside world. 

The fact that the prisoners within were securely 
chained led us to believe that surely there must be 
an avenue of escape from the terrible creatures 
which inhabited this unspeakable place. 

Again and again we turned from one door to 
another, from the baffling golden panel at one end 
of the chamber to its mate at the other — equally 


When we had about given up all hope one of the 
panels turned silently toward us, and the young 
woman who had led away the banths stood once 
more beside us. 

"Who are you?" she asked, "and what your 
mission, that you have the temerity to attempt to 
escape from the Valley Dor and the death you have 
chosen ? " 

" I have chosen no death, maiden," I replied. " I 
am not of Barsoom, nor have I taken yet the volun- 
tary pilgrimage upon the River Iss. My friend here 
is Jeddak of all the Tharks, and though he has not 
yet expressed a desire to return to the living world, 
I am taking him with me from the living lie that hath 
lured him to this frightful place. 

" I am of another world. I am John Carter, Prince 
of the House of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium. 
Perchance some faint rumor of me may have leaked 
within the confines of your hellish abode." 

She smiled. 

"Yes," she replied, "naught that passes in the 
world we have left is unknown here. I have heard 
of you; many years ago. The therns have ofttimes 
wondered whither you had flown, since you had 
neither taken the pilgrimage, nor could be found 
upon the face of Barsoom." 

"Tell me," I said, "and who be you, and why a 
prisoner; yet with power over the ferocious beasts 
of the place that denotes familiarity and authority 


far beyond that which might be expected of a pris- 
oner or a slave?" 

" Slave I am," she answered. " For fifteen years 
a slave in this terrible place, and now that they have 
tired of me and become fearful of the power which 
my knowledge of their ways has given me I am but 
recently condemned to die the death." 

She shuddered. 

"What death?" I asked. 

"The Holy Therns eat human flesh," she an- 
swered me; "but only that which has died beneath 
the sucking lips of a plant man — flesh from which 
the defiling blood of life has been drawn. And to 
this cruel end I have been condemned. It was to be 
within a few hours, had your advent not caused an 
interruption of their plans." 

"Was it then Holy Therns who felt the weight 
of John Carter's hand ? " I asked. 

"Oh, no; those whom you laid low are lesser 
therns; but of the same cruel and hateful race. The 
Holy Therns abide upon the outer slopes of these 
grim hills, facing the broad world from which they 
harvest their victims and their spoils. 

" Labyrinthine passages connect these caves with 
the luxurious palaces of the Holy Therns, and 
through them pass upon their many duties the lesser 
therns, and hordes of slaves, and prisoners, and 
fierce beasts; the grim inhabitants of this sunless 


"There be within this vast network of winding 
passages and countless chambers men, women and 
beasts who, born within its dim and gruesome under- 
world, have never seen the light of day — nor ever 

"They are kept to do the bidding of the race of 
therns; to furnish at once their sport and their sus- 

"Now and again some hapless pilgrim, drifting 
out upon the silent sea from the cold Iss, escapes the 
plant men and the great white apes that guard the 
Temple of Issus and falls into the remorseless 
clutches of the therns; or, as was my misfortune, is 
coveted by the Holy Thern who chances to be upon 
watch in the balcony above the river where it 
issues from the bowels of the mountains through 
the cliffs of gold to empty into the Lost Sea of 

"All who reach the Valley Dor are, by custom, the 
rightful prey of the plant men and the apes, while 
their arms and ornaments become the portion of the 
therns ; but if one escapes the terrible denizens of the 
valley for even a few hours the therns may claim 
such a one as their own. And again the Holy Thern 
on watch, should he see a victim he covets, often 
tramples upon the rights of the unreasoning brutes 
cf the valley and takes his prize by foul means if 
he cannot gain it by fair. 

" It is said that occasionally some deluded victim 


of Barsoomian superstition will so far escape the 
clutches of the countless enemies that beset his path 
from the moment that he emerges from the subter- 
ranean passage through which the Iss flows for a 
thousand miles before it enters the Valley Dor as to 
reach the very walls of the Temple of Issus; but 
what fate awaits one there not even the Holy Therns 
may guess, for who has passed within those gilded 
walls never has returned to unfold the mysteries 
they have held since the beginning of time. 

" The Temple of Issus is to the therns what the 
Valley Dor is imagined by the peoples of the outer 
world to be to them ; it is the ultimate haven of peace, 
refuge, and happiness to which they pass after this 
life and wherein an eternity of eternities is spent 
amidst the delights of the flesh which appeal most 
strongly to this race of mental giants and moral 

" The Temple of Issus is, I take it, a heaven within 
a heaven," I said. " Let us hope that there it will be 
meted to the therns as they have meted it here unto 

" Who knows ? " the girl murmured. 

"The therns, I judge from what you have said, 
are no less mortal than we; and yet have I always 
heard them spoken of with the utmost awe and rev- 
erence by the people of Barsoom, as one might speak 
of the gods themselves." 

" The therns are mortal," she replied. " They die 


from the same causes as you or I might: those whc 
do not live their allotted span of life, one thousand 
years, when by the authority of custom they may 
take their way in happiness through the long tunnel 
that leads to Issus. 

"Those who die before are supposed to spend 
the balance of their allotted time in the image of a 
plant man, and it is for this reason that the plant 
men are held sacred by the therns, since they believe 
that each of these hideous creatures was formerly 
a thern." 

"And should a plant man die?" I asked. 

" Should he die before the expiration of the thou- 
sand years from the birth of the thern whose im- 
mortality abides within him then the soul passes into 
a great white ape; but should the ape die short of the 
exact hour that terminates the thousand years the 
soul is forever lost and passes for all eternity into 
the carcass of the slimy and fearsome silian whose 
wriggling thousands seethe the silent sea beneath 
the hurtling moons when the sun has gone and 
strange shapes walk through the Valley Dor." 

"We sent several Holy Therns to the silians to- 
day, then," said Tars Tarkas, laughing. 

"And so will your death be the more terrible when 
it comes," said the maiden. "And come it will — 
you cannot escape." 

" One has escaped, centuries ago," I reminded her, 

and what has been done may be done again." 



"It is useless even to try," she answered hope- 

"But try we shall," I cried, "and you shall go 
with us, if you wish." 

"To be put to death by mine own people, and 
render my memory a disgrace to my family and my 
nation? A Prince of the House of Tardos Mors 
should know better than to suggest such a thing." 

Tars Tarkas listened in silence, but I could feel 
his eyes riveted upon me and I knew that he awaited 
my answer as one might listen to the reading of his 
sentence by the foreman of a jury. 

tWhat I advised the girl to do would seal our fate 
as well, since if I bowed to the inevitable decree of 
age-old superstition we must all remain and meet 
our fate in some horrible form within this awful 
abode of horror and cruelty. 

"We have the right to escape if we can," I an- 
swered. " Our own moral senses will not be ofYended 
if we succeed, for we know that the fabled life of 
love and peace in the blessed Valley of Dor is a 
rank and wicked deception. We know that the valley 
is not sacred; we know that the Holy Therns are 
not holy; that they are a race of cruel and heartless 
mortals, knowing no more of the real life to come 
than do we. 

" Not only is it our right to bend every effort to 
escape- — it is a solemn duty from which we should 
not shrink even though we knew that we should be 


— — ■ ■ ■ -■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ , , ,. .. — . . 

reviled and tortured by our own peoples when we 
returned to them. 

" Only thus may we carry the truth to those with- 
out, and though the likelihood of our narrative being 
given credence is, I grant you, remote, so wedded 
are mortals to their stupid infatuation for impossible 
superstitions, we should be craven cowards indeed 
were we to shirk the plain duty which confronts us. 

"Again there is a chance that with the weight of 
the testimony of several of us the truth of our state- 
ments may be accepted, and at least a compromise 
effected which will result in the dispatching of an 
expedition of investigation to this hideous mockery 
<of heaven/' 

Both the girl and the green warrior stood silent 
in thought for some moments. The former it was 
who eventually broke the silence. 

" Never had I considered the matter in that light 
before, ,, she said. "Indeed would I give my life a 
thousand times if I could but save a single soul from 
the awful life that I have led in this cruel place. Yes, 
you are right, and I will go with you as far as we 
can go; but I doubt that we ever shall escape/ ' 

I turned an inquiring glance toward the Thark. 

"To the gates of Issus, or to the bottom of 
Korus," spoke the green warrior ; " to the snows to 
the north or to the snows to the south, Tars Tarkas 
follows where John Carter leads. I have spoken/ ' 

" Come, then," I cried, " we must make the start, 


for we could not be further from escape than we now 
are in the heart of this mountain and within the four 
walls of this chamber of death." 

"Come, then," said the girl, "but do not flatter 
yourself that you can find no worse place than this 
within the territory of the therns." 

So saying she swung the secret panel that sep- 
arated us from the apartment in which I had found 
her, and we stepped through once more into the pres- 
ence of the other prisoners. 

There were in all ten red Martians, men and 
women, and when we had briefly explained our plan 
they decided to join forces with us, though it was 
evident that it was with some considerable misgiv- 
ings that they thus tempted fate by opposing an an- 
cient superstition, even though each knew through 
cruel experience the fallacy of its entire fabric. 

Thuvia, the girl whom I had first freed, soon had 
the others at liberty. Tars Tarkas and I stripped the 
bodies of the two therns of their weapons, which in- 
cluded swords, daggers and two revolvers of the 
curious and deadly type manufactured by the red 

We distributed the weapons as far as they would 
go among our followers, giving the firearms to two 
of the women; Thuvia being one so armed. 

With the latter as our guide we set off rapidly but 
cautiously through a maze of passages, crossing great 
chambers hewn from the solid metal of the cliff, fol- 


lowing winding corridors, ascending steep inclines, 
and now and again concealing ourselves in dark re- 
cesses at the sound of approaching footsteps. 

Our destination, Thuvia said, was a distant store- 
room where arms and ammunition in plenty might 
be found. From there she was to lead us to the sum- 
mit of the cliffs, from where it would require both 
wondrous wit and mighty fighting to win our way 
through the very heart of the stronghold of the Holy 
Therns to the world without. 

"And even then, O Prince," she cried, "the arm 
of the Holy Thern is long. It reaches to every na- 
tion of Barsoom. His secret temples are hidden in 
the heart of every community. Wherever we go 
should we escape we shall find that word of our 
coming has preceded us, and death awaits us before 
we may pollute the air with our blasphemies. " 

We had proceeded for possibly an hour without 
serious interruption, and Thuvia had just whispered 
to me that we were approaching our first destination, 
when on entering a great chamber we came upon a 
man, evidently a thern. 

He wore in addition to his leathern trappings and 
jeweled ornaments a great circlet of gold about his 
brow in the exact center of which was set an im- 
mense stone, the exact counterpart of that which I 
had seen upon the breast of the little old man at the 
atmosphere plant nearly twenty years before. 

It is the one priceless jewel of Barsoom. Only two 


are known to exist, and those were worn as the in- 
signia of their rank and position by the two old men 
in whose charge was placed the operation of the 
great engines which pump the artificial atmosphere 
to all parts of Mars from the huge atmosphere plant, 
the secret to whose mighty portals placed in my pos- 
session the ability to save from immediate extinction 
the life of a whole world. 

The stone worn by the thern who confronted us 
was of about the same size as that which I had seen 
before; an inch in diameter I should say. It scin- 
tillated nine different and distinct rays; the seven 
primary colors of our earthly prism and the two 
rays which are unknown upon Earth, but whose won- 
drous beauty is indescribable. 

As the thern saw us his eyes narrowed to two 
nasty slits. 

"Stop!" he cried. "What means this, Thuvia?" 

For answer the girl raised her revolver and fired 
point-blank at him. Without a sound he sank to 
the earth, dead. 

"Beast!" she hissed. "After all these years I am 
at last revenged." 

Then as she turned toward me, evidently with a 
word of explanation on her lips, her eyes suddenly 
widened as they rested upon me, and with a little 
exclamation she started toward me. 

" O Prince," she cried, " Fate is indeed kind to us. 
The way is still difficult, but through this vile thing 


tipon the floor we may yet win to the outer world. 
Notest thou not the remarkable resemblance between 
this Holy Thern and thyself?" 

The man was indeed of my precise stature, nor 
were his eyes and features unlike mine ; but his hair 
was a mass of flowing yellow locks, like those of the 
two I had killed, while mine is black and close 

"What of the resemblance ? " I asked the girl 
Thuvia. " Do you wish me with my black, short hair 
to pose as a yellow-haired priest of this infernal 
cult? ,, 

She smiled, and for answer approached the body 
of the man she had slain, and kneeling beside it re- 
moved the circlet of gold from the forehead, and 
then to my utter amazement lifted the entire seal]* 
bodily from the corpse's head. 

Rising, she advanced to my side and placing the 
yellow wig over my black hair, crowned me with 
the golden circlet set with the magnificent gem. 

"Now don his harness, Prince," she said, "and 
you may pass where you will in the realms of the 
therns, for Sator Throg was a Holy Thern of the 
Tenth Cycle, and mighty among his kind." 

As I stooped to the dead man to do her bidding 
I noted that not a hair grew upon his head, which 
was quite as bald as an egg. 

" They are all thus from birth," explained Thuvia, 
noting my surprise. "The race from which they 


sprung were crowned with a luxuriant growth of 
golden hair, but for many ages the present race has 
been entirely bald. The wig, however, has come to be 
a part of their apparel, and so important a part do 
they consider it that it is cause for the deepest dis- 
grace were a thern to appear in public without it." 

In another moment I stood garbed in the habili- 
ments of a Holy Thern. 

At Thuvia's suggestion two of the released pris- 
oners bore the body of the dead thern upon their 
shoulders with us as we continued our journey to- 
ward the storeroom, which we reached without fur- 
ther mishap. 

Here the keys which Thuvia bore from the dead 
thern of the prison vault were the means of giving 
us immediate entrance to the chamber, and very 
quickly we were thoroughly outfitted with arms and 

By this time I was so thoroughly fagged that I 
could go no further, so I threw myself upon the 
floor, bidding Tars Tarkas to do likewise, and cau- 
tioning two of the released prisoners to keep care- 
ful watch. 

In an instant I was asleep. 



HOW long I slept upon the floor of the store- 
room I do not know, but it must have beeij 
many hours. 

I was awakened with a start by cries of alarm, 
and scarce were my eyes opened, nor had I yet suffi- 
ciently collected my wits to quite realize where I 
was, when a fusillade of shots rang out, reverberat- 
ing through the subterranean corridors in a series 
of deafening echoes. 

In an instant I was upon my feet. A dozen lesser 
therns confronted us from a large doorway at the 
opposite end of the storeroom from which we had 
entered. About me lay the bodies of my compan- 
ions, with the exception of Thuvia and Tars Tarkas, 
who, like myself, had been asleep upon the floor 
and thus escaped the first raking fire. 

As I gained my feet the therns lowered their 
wicked rifles, their faces distorted in mingled 
chagrin, consternation, and alarm. 

Instantly I arose to the occasion. 

"What means this?" I cried in tones of fierce 
anger. " Is Sator Throg to be murdered by his own 



"Have mercy, O Master of the Tenth Cycle!" 
cried one of the fellows, while the others edged 
toward the doorway as though to attempt a surrepti- 
tious escape from the presence of the mighty one. 

"Ask them their mission here," whispered Thuvia 
at my elbow. 

" What do you here, fellows? " I cried. 

"Two from the outer world are at large within 
the dominions of the therns. We sought them at 
the command of the Father of Therns. One was 
white with black hair, the other a huge green war- 
rior," and here the fellow cast a suspicious glance 
toward Tars Tarkas. 

" Here, then, is one of them," spoke Thuvia, indi- 
cating the Thark, "and if you will look upon this 
dead man by the door perhaps you w T ill recognize the 
other. It was left for Sator Throg and his poor 
slaves to accomplish what the lesser therns of the 
guard were unable to do — we have killed one and 
captured the other; for this has Sator Throg given 
us our liberty. And now in your stupidity have you 
come and killed all but myself, and like to have killed 
the mighty Sator Throg himself." 

The men looked very sheepish and very scared. 

"Had they not better throw these bodies to the 
plant men and then return to their quarters, O 
Mighty One?" asked Thuvia of me. 

"Yes; do as Thuvia bids you," I said. 

As the men picked up the bodies I noticed that the 


one who stooped to gather up the late Sator Throg 
started as his closer scrutiny fell upon the upturned 
face, and then the fellow stole a furtive, sneaking 
glance in my direction from the corner of his 

That he suspicioned something of the truth I 
could have sworn; but that it was only a suspicion 
which he did not dare voice was evidenced by his 

Again, as he bore the body from the room, he 
shot a quick but searching glance toward me, and 
then his eyes fell once more upon the bald and shiny 
dome of the dead man in his arms. The last fleeting 
glimpse that I obtained of his profile as he passed 
from my sight without the chamber revealed a cun- 
ning smile of triumph upon his lips. 

Only Tars Tarkas, Thuvia, and I were left. The 
fatal marksmanship of the therns had snatched from 
our companions whatever slender chance they had 
of gaining the perilous freedom of the world with- 

So soon as the last of the gruesome procession 
had disappeared the girl urged us to take up our 
flight once more. 

She, too, had noted the questioning attitude of 
the them who had borne Sator Throg away. 

"It bodes no good for us, O Prince," she said. 
"For even though this fellow dared not chance 
accusing you in error, there be those above with 


power sufficient to demand a closer scrutiny, and 
that, Prince, would indeed prove fatal." 

I shrugged my shoulders. It seemed that in any 
event the outcome of our plight must end in death. 
I was refreshed from my sleep, but still weak from 
loss of blood. My wounds were painful. No medici- 
nal aid seemed possible. How I longed for the 
almost miraculous healing power of the strange 
salves and lotions of the green Martian women. In 
an hour they would have had me as new. 

I was discouraged. Never had a feeling of such 
utter hopelessness come over me in the face of 
danger. Then the long, flowing, yellow locks of the 
Holy Thern, caught by some vagrant draught, blew 
about my face. 

Might they not still open the way to freedom? 
If we acted in time, might we not even yet escape 
before the general alarm was sounded? We could 
at least try. 

"What will the fellow do first, Thuvia?" I 
asked. "How long will it be before they may re- 
turn for us ? " 

"He will go directly to the Father of Therns, old 

jMatai Shang. He may have to wait for an audience, 

but since he is very high among the lesser therns, 

in fact a thorian among them, it will not be long 

that Matai Shang will keep him waiting. 

"Then, if the Father of Therns puts credence in 
his story, another hour will see the galleries and 


chambers, the courts, and gardens, filled with 
searchers. " 

" What we do then must be done within an hour. 
[What is the best way, Thuvia, the shortest way out 
of this celestial Hades?" 

" Straight to the top of the cliffs, Prince," she 
replied, " and then through the gardens to the inner 
courts. From there our way will lie within the 
temples of the therns and across them to the outer 
courts. Then the ramparts — O Prince, it is hope- 
less. Ten thousand warriors could not hew a way 
to liberty from out this awful place. 

" Since the beginning of time, little by little, stone 
by stone, have the therns been ever adding to the 
defenses of their stronghold. A continuous line of 
impregnable fortifications circles the outer slope? of 
the Mountains of Otz. 

" Within the temples that lie behind the ramparts 
a million fighting men are ever ready. The courts 
and gardens are filled with slaves, with women and 
with children. 

"None could go a stone's throw without defec- 

"If there is no other way, Thuvia, why dwell 
upon the difficulties of this. We must face them." 

" Can we not better make the attempt after dark ? " 
asked Tars Tarkas. "There would seem to be no 
chance by day." 

"There would be a little better chance by night, 


but even then the ramparts are well guarded; pos- 
sibly better than by day. There are fewer abroad 
in the courts and gardens, though," said Thuvia. 

" What is the hour ? " I asked. 

"It was midnight when you released me from 
my chains," said Thuvia. "Two hours later we 
reached the storeroom. There you slept for four- 
teen hours. It must now be nearly sundown again. 
Come, we will go to some nearby window in the 
cliff and make sure." 

So saying, she led the way through winding cor- 
ridors until at a sudden turn we came upon an open- 
ing which overlooked the Valley Dor. 

At our right the sun was setting, a huge red orb, 
below the western range of Otz. A little below us 
stood the Holy Thern on watch upon his balcony. 
His scarlet robe of office was pulled tightly about 
him in anticipation of the cold that comes so sud- 
denly with darkness as the sun sets. So rare is the 
atmosphere of Mars that it absorbs very little heat 
from the sun. During the daylight hours it is always 
extremely hot; at night it is intensely cold. Nor 
does the thin atmosphere refract the sun's rays or 
diffuse its light as upon Earth. There is no twilight 
on Mars. When the great orb of day disappears 
beneath the horizon the effect is precisely as that of 
the extinguishing of a single lamp within a chamber. 
From brilliant light you are plunged without warn- 
ing into utter darkness. Then the moons come ; the 


mysterious, magic moons of Mars, hurtling like mon- 
ster meteors low across the face of the planet. 

The declining sun lighted brilliantly the eastern 
banks of Korus, the crimson sward, the gorgeous 
forest. Beneath the trees we saw feeding many 
herds of plant men. The adults stood aloft upon 
their toes and their mighty tails, their talons prun- 
ing every available leaf and twig. It was then that 
I understood the careful trimming of the trees which 
had led me to form the mistaken idea when first I 
opened my eyes upon the grove that it was the play- 
ground of a civilized people. 

As we watched, our eyes wandered to the rolling 
Iss, which issued from the base of the cliffs beneath 
us. Presently there emerged from the mountain a 
canoe laden with lost souls from the outer world. 
There were a dozen of them. All were of the highly 
civilized and cultured race of red men who are dom- 
inant on Mars. 

The eyes of the herald upon the balcony beneath 
us fell upon the doomed party as soon as did ours. 
He raised his head and, leaning far out over the 
low rail that rimmed his dizzy perch, voiced the 
shrill, weird wail that called the demons of this hell- 
ish place to the attack. 

For an instant the brutes stood with stiffly erected 
ears, then they poured from the grove toward the 
river's bank, covering the distance with great, un- 
gainly leaps. 


The party had landed and was standing on the 
sward as the awful horde came in sight. There was 
a brief and futile effort of defense. Then silence 
as the huge, repulsive shapes covered the bodies of 
their victims and scores of sucking mouths fastened 
themselves to the flesh of their prey. 

I turned away in disgust. 

"Their part is soon over," said Thuvia. "The 
great white apes get the flesh when the plant men 
have drained the arteries. Look, they are coming 

As I turned my eyes in the direction the girl indi- 
cated, I saw a dozen of the great white monsters 
running across the valley toward the river bank. 
Then the sun went down and darkness that could 
almost be felt engulfed us. 

Thuvia lost no time in leading us toward the 
corridor which winds back and forth up through 
the cliffs toward the surface thousands of feet above 
the level on which we had been. 

Twice great banths, wandering loose through the 
galleries, blocked our progress, but in each instance 
Thuvia spoke a low word of command and the 
snarling beasts slunk sullenly away. 

" If you can dissolve all our obstacles as easily as 
you master these fierce brutes I can see no difficul- 
ties in our way," I said to the girl, smiling. " How 
do you do it ? " 

She laughed, and then shuddered. 


"I do not quite know," she said. "When first 
I came here I angered Sator Throg, because I re- 
pulsed him. He ordered me thrown into one of the 
great pits in the inner gardens. It was filled with 
banths. In my own country I had been accustomed 
to command. Something in my voice, I do not know 
what, cowed the beasts as they sprang to attack me. 

"Instead of tearing me to pieces, as Sator Throg 
had desired, they fawned at my feet. So greatly 
were Sator Throg and his friends amused by the 
sight that they kept me to train and handle the ter- 
rible creatures. I know them all by name. There 
are many of them wandering through these lower 
regions. They are the scavengers. Many prisoners 
die here in their chains. • The banths solve the prob- 
lem of sanitation, at least in this respect. 

" In the gardens and temples above they are kept 
in pits. The therns fear them. It is because of the 
banths that they seldom venture below ground except 
as their duties call them." 

An idea occurred to me, suggested by what 
Thuvia had just said. 

" Why not take a number of banths and set them 
loose before us above ground?" I asked. 

Thuvia laughed. 

" It would distract attention from us, I am sure," 
she said. 

She commenced calling in a low singsong voice 
that was half purr She continued this as we wound 


our tedious way through the maze of subterranean 
passages and chambers. 

Presently soft, padded feet sounded close behind 
us, and as I turned I saw a pair of great, green eyes 
shining in the dark shadows at our rear. From a 
diverging tunnel a sinuous, tawny form crept/ 
stealthily toward us. 

Low growls and angry snarls assailed our ears 
on every side as we hastened on and one by one the 
ferocious creatures answered the call of their mis- 

She spoke a word to each as it joined us. Like 
well-schooled terriers, they paced the corridors with 
us, but I could not help but note the lathering jowls, 
nor the hungry expressions with which they eyed 
Tars Tarkas and myself. 

Soon we were entirely surrounded by some fifty 
of the brutes. Two walked close on either side of 
Thuvia, as guards might walk. The sleek sides of 
others now and then touched my own naked limbs. 
It was a strange experience; the almost noiseless 
passage of naked human feet and padded paws; the 
golden walls splashed with precious stones ; the dim 
light cast by the tiny radium bulbs set at considerable 
distances along the roof; the huge, maned beasts of ; 
prey crowding with low growls about us ; the mighty 7 
green warrior towering high above us all; myself 
crowned with the priceless diadem of a Holy Thern; 
and leading the procession the beautiful girl, Thuvia. 



I shall not soon forget it. 

Presently we approached a great chamber more 
brightly lighted than the corridors. Thuvia halted 
us. Quietly she stole toward the entrance and 
glanced within. Then she motioned us to follow 

The room was filled with specimens of the strange 
beings that inhabit this underworld ; a heterogeneous 
collection of hybrids — the offspring of the pris- 
oners from the outside world; red and green Mar- 
tians and the white race of therns. 

Constant confinement below ground had wrought 
odd freaks upon their skins. They more resemble 
corpses than living beings. Many are deformed, 
others maimed, while the majority, Thuvia ex- 
plained, are sightless. 

As they lay sprawled about the floor, sometimes 
overlapping one another, again in heaps of several 
bodies, they suggested instantly to me the grotesque 
illustrations that I had seen in copies of Dante's 
Inferno, and what more fitting comparison? Was 
this not indeed a veritable hell, peopled by lost souls, 
dead and damned beyond all hope ? 

Picking our way carefully we threaded a winding 
path across the chamber, the great banths sniffing 
hungrily at the tempting prey spread before them in 
such tantalizing and defenseless profusion. 

Several times we passed the entrances to other 
chambers similarly peopled, and twice again we were 


compelled to cross directly through them. In others 
were chained prisoners and beasts. 

"Why is it that we see no therns?" I asked of 

"They seldom traverse the underworld at night, 
for then it is that the great banths prowl the dim 
corridors seeking their prey. The therns fear the 
awful denizens of this cruel and hopeless world that ' 
they have fostered and allowed to grow beneath 
their feet. The prisoners even sometimes turn upon 
them and rend them. The thern can never tell from 
what dark shadow an assassin may spring upon his 

" By day it is different. Then the corridors anr! 
chambers are filled with guards passing to and fro ; 
slaves from the temples above come by hundreds to 
the granaries and storerooms. All is life then. You 
did not see it because I led you not in the beaten 
tracks, but through roundabout passages seldom 
used. Yet it is possible that we may meet a thern 
even yet. They do occasionally find it necessary to 
come here after the sun has set. Because of this I 
have moved with such great caution." 

But we reached the upper galleries without detec- 
tion and presently Thuvia halted us at the foot of a 
short, steep ascent. 

"Above us," she said, " is a doorway which opens 
onto the inner gardens. I have brought you thus 
far. From here on for four miles to the outer ram- 


— ■ m i ■ 

parts our way will be beset by countless dangers. 
Guards patrol the courts, the temples, the gardens. 
Every inch of the ramparts themselves is beneath 
the eye of a sentry." 

I could not understand the necessity for such an 
enormous force of armed men about a spot so sur- 
rounded by mystery and superstition that not a soul 
upon Barsoom would have dared to approach it 
even had they known its exact location. I ques- 
tioned Thuvia, asking her what enemies the therns 
could fear in their impregnable fortress. 

We had reached the doorway now and Thuvia 
was opening it. 

"They fear the black pirates of Barsoom, O 
Prince," she said, " from whom may our first an- 
cestors preserve us." 

The door swung open; the smell of growing 
tkings greeted my nostrils; the cool night air blew 
against my cheek. The great banths sniffed the 
unfamiliar odors, and then with a rush they broke 
past us with low growls, swarming across the gar- 
dens beneath the lurid light of the nearer moon. 

Suddenly a great cry arose from the roofs of the 
temples; a cry of alarm and warning that, taken up 
from point to point, ran off to the east and to the 
west, from temple, court, and rampart, until it 
sounded as a dim echo in the distance. 

The great Thark's long-sword leaped from its 
scabbard ; Thuvia shrank shuddering to my side. 



WTTTHAT is it?" I asked of the girl. 

V V For answer she pointed to the sky 

I looked, and there, above us, I saw shadowy 
bodies flitting hither and thither high over temple, 
court, and garden. 

Almost immediately flashes of light broke from 
these strange objects. There was a roar of mus- 
ketry, and then answering flashes and roars from 
temple and rampart. 

"The black pirates of Barsoom, O Prince," said 

In great circles the air craft of Tie marauders 
swept lower and lower toward the defending forces 
of the therns. 

Volley after volley they vomited upon the temple 
guards ; volley on volley crashed through the thin air 
toward the fleeting and illusive fliers. 

As the pirates swooped closer toward the ground, 
thern soldiery poured from the temples into the 
gardens and courts. The sight of them in the open 
brought a score of fliers darting toward us from all 


The therns fired upon them through shields affixed 



to their rifles, but on, steadily on, came the grim, 
black craft. They were small fliers for the most 
part, built for two to three men. A few larger ones 
there were, but these kept high aloft dropping bombs 
upon the temples from their keel batteries. 

At length, with a concerted rush, evidently in re-* 
sponse to a signal of command, the pirates in our 
immediate vicinity dashed recklessly to the ground 
in the very midst of the thern soldiery. 

Scarcely waiting for their craft to touch, the 
creatures manning them leaped among the therns 
with the fury of demons. Such fighting! Never 
had I witnessed its like before. I had thought the 
green Martians the most ferocious warriors in the 
universe, but the awful abandon with which the 
black pirates threw themselves upon their foes tran- 
scended everything I ever before had seen. 

Beneath the brilliant light of Mars' two glorious 
moons the whole scene presented itself in vivid dis- 
tinctness. The golden-haired, white-skinned therns 
battling with desperate courage in hand-to-hand con- 
vict with their ebony-skinned foemen. 

Here a little knot of struggling warriors trampled 
a bed of gorgeous pimalia ; there the curved sword of 
a black man found the heart of a thern and left its 
dead foeman at the foot of a wondrous statue 
carved from a living ruby; yonder a dozen therns 
pressed a single pirate back upon a bench of emerald, 
upon whose iridescent surface a strangely beautiful 


Barsoomian design is traced out in inlaid dia- 

A little to one side stood Thuvia, the Thark, and 
I. The tide of battle had not reached us, but the 
fighters from time to time swung close enough that 
we might distinctly note them. 

The black pirates interested me immensely. I had 
heard vague rumors, little more than legends they 
were, during my former life on Mars ; but never had 
I seen them, nor talked with one who had. 

They were popularly supposed to inhabit the lesser 
moon, from which they descended upon Barsoom at 
long intervals. Where they visited they wrought 
the most horrible atrocities, and when they left car- 
ried away with them firearms and ammunition, and 
young girls as prisoners. These latter, the rumor 
had it, they sacrificed to some terrible god in an orgy 
which ended in the eating of their victims. 

I had an excellent opportunity to examine them 
as the strife occasionally brought now one and now 
another close to where I stood. They were large 
men, possibly six feet and over in height. Their 
features were clear cut and handsome in the ex- 
treme; their eyes were well set and large, though a 
slight narrowness lent them a crafty appearance; 
the iris, as well as I could determine by moonlight, 
was of extreme blackness, while the eyeball itself 
was quite white and clear. The physical structure 
of their bodies seemed identical with those of the 


therns, the red men, and my own. Only in the color 
of their skin did they differ materially from us; 
that is of the appearance of polished ebony, and 
odd as it may seem for a Southerner to say it, adds 
to rather than detracts from their marvelous beauty. 

But if their bodies are divine, their hearts, appar- 
ently, are quite the reverse. Never did I witness 
such a malign lust for blood as these demons of the 
outer air evinced in their mad battle with the therns. 

All about us in the garden lay their sinister craft, 
which the therns for some reason, then unaccount- 
able to me, made no effort to injure. Now and again 
a black warrior would rush from a nearby temple 
bearing a young woman in his arms. Straight for 
his flier he would leap while those of his comrades 
who fought nearby would rush to cover his escape. 

The therns on their side would hasten to rescue 
the girl, and in an instant the two would be swal- 
lowed in the vortex of a maelstrom of yelling devils, 
hacking and hewing at one another, like fiends in- 

But always, it seemed, were the black pirates of 
Barsoom victorious, and the girl, brought miracu- 
lously unharmed through the conflict, borne away 
into the outer darkness upon the deck of a swift flier. 

Fighting similar to that which surrounded us 
could be heard in both directions as far as sound car- 
ried, and Thuvia told me that the attacks of the 
black pirates were usually made simultaneously 


along the entire ribbon-like domain of the therns, 
which circles the Valley Dor on the outer slopes of 
the Mountains of Otz. 

As the fighting receded from our position for a 
moment, Thuvia turned toward me with a question. 

"Do you understand, now, O Prince," she said, 
" why a million warriors guard the domains of the 
Holy Therns by day and by night? 

" The scene you are witnessing now is but a repeti- 
tion of what I have seen enacted a score of times 
during the fifteen years I have been a prisoner here. 
From time immemorial the black pirates of Bar- 
soom have preyed upon the Holy Therns. 

" Yet they never carry their expeditions to a point, 
as one might readily believe it was in their power 
to do, where the extermination of the race of therns 
is threatened. It is as though they but utilized the 
race as playthings, with which they satisfy their 
ferocious lust for fighting; and from whom they 
collect toll in arms and ammunition and in 

"Why don't they jump in and destroy these 
fliers?" I asked. "That would soon put a stop to 
the attacks, or at least the blacks would scarce be so 
bold. Why, see how perfectly unguarded they leave 
their craft, as though they were lying safe in their 
own hangars at home." 

"The therns do not dare. They tried it once, 
ages ago, but the next night and for a whole moon 


thereafter a thousand great, black battleships cir- 
cled the Mountains of Otz, pouring tons of projec- 
tiles upon the temples, the gardens, and the courts, 
until every thern who was not killed was driven for 
safety into the subterranean galleries. 

"The therns know that they live at all only by] 
the sufferance of the black men. They were near to 
extermination that once and they will not venture 
risking it again. " 

As she ceased talking a new element was instilled 
into the conflict. It came from a source equally 
unlooked for by either thern or pirate. The great 
banths which we had liberated in the garden had 
evidently been awed at first by the sound of the bat- 
tle, the yelling of the warriors and the loud report 
of rifle and bomb. 

But now they must have become angered by the 
continuous noise and excited by the smell of new 
blood, for all of a sudden a great form shot from a 
clump of low shrubbery into the midst of a strug- 
gling mass of humanity. A horrid scream of bestial 
rage broke from the banth as he felt warm flesh 
beneath his powerful talons. 

As though his cry was but a signal to the others, 
the entire great pack hurled themselves among the 
fighters. Panic reigned in an instant. Thern and 
black man turned alike against the common enemy, 
for the banths showed no partiality toward either. 

The awful beasts bore down a hundred men by the 


mere weight of their great bodies as they hurled 
themselves into the thick of the fight. Leaping and 
clawing, they mowed down the warriors with their 
powerful paws, turning for an instant to rend their 
victims with frightful fangs. 

The scene was fascinating in its terribleness, but 
suddenly it came to me that we were wasting valu- 
able time watching this conflict, which in itself might 
prove a means to our escape. 

The therns were so engaged with their terrible 
assailants that now, if ever, escape should be com- 
paratively easy. I turned to search for an opening 
through the contending hordes. If we could but 
reach the ramparts we might find that the pirates 
somewhere had thinned the guarding forces and left 
a way open to us to the world without. 

As my eyes wandered about the garden, the sight 
of the hundreds of air craft lying unguarded around 
us suggested the simplest avenue to freedom. Why 
had it not occurred to me before! I was thoroughly 
familiar with the mechanism of every known make 
of flier on Barsoom. For nine years I had sailed 
and fought with the navy of Helium. I had raced 
through space on the tiny one-man air scout and I 
had commanded the greatest battleship that ever 
had floated the thin air of dying Mars. 

To think, with me, is to act. Grasping Thuvia by 
the arm, I whispered to Tars Tarkas to follow me. 
Quickly we glided toward a small flier which lay 


furthest from the battling warriors. Another in- 
stant found us huddled on the tiny deck. My hand 
was on the starting lever. I pressed my thumb upon 
the button which controls the ray of repulsion, that, 
splendid discovery of the Martians which permits 
them to navigate the thin atmosphere of their planet 
in huge ships that dwarf the dreadnaughts of our 
earthly navies into pitiful insignificance. 

The craft swayed slightly but she did not move. 
Then a new cry of warning broke upon our ears. 
Turning, I saw a dozen black pirates dashing toward 
us from the melee. We had been discovered. With 
shrieks of rage the demons sprang for us. With 
frenzied insistance I continued to press the little 
button which should have sent us racing out into 
space, but still the vessel refused to budge. Then 
it came to me — the reason that she would not rise. 

We had stumbled upon a two-man flier. Its ray 
tanks were charged only with sufficient repulsive 
energy to lift two ordinary men. The Thark's great 
weight was anchoring us to our doom. 

The blacks were nearly upon us. There was not 
an instant to be lost in hesitation or doubt. 

I pressed the button far in and locked it. Then 1 
set the lever at high speed and as the blacks came, 
yelling upon us I slipped from the craft's deck and 
with drawn long-sword met the attack. 

At the same moment a girl's shriek rang out be- 
hind me and an instant later, as the blacks fell upon 


me, I heard far above my head, and faintly, in 
Thuvia's voice : " My Prince, O my Prince ; I would 
rather remain and die with — " but the rest was 
lost in the noise of my assailants. 

I knew though that my ruse had worked and that 
temporarily at least Thuvia and Tars Tarkas were 
safe, and the means of escape was theirs. 

For a moment it seemed that I could not with- 
stand the weight of numbers that confronted me, but 
again, as on so many other occasions when I had 
been called upon to face fearful odds upon this 
planet of warriors and fierce beasts, I found that my 
earthly strength so far transcended that of my 
opponents that the odds were not so greatly against 
me as they appeared. 

My seething blade wove a net of death about me. 
For an instant the blacks pressed close to reach me 
with their shorter swords, but presently they gave 
back, and the esteem in which they suddenly had 
learned to hold my sword arm was writ large upon 
each countenance. 

I knew though that it was but a question of 
minutes before their greater numbers would wear 
me down, or get around my guard. I must go down 
eventually to certain death before them. I shud- 
dered at the thought of it, dying thus in this terrible 
place where no word of my end ever could reach my 
Dejah Thoris. Dying at the hands of nameless 
black men in the gardens of the cruel therns. 


Then my old-time spirit reasserted itself. The 
fighting blood of my Virginian sires coursed hot 
through my veins. The fierce blood lust and the 
joy of battle surged over me. The fighting smile 
that has brought consternation to a thousand foe- 
men touched my lips. I put the thought of death 
out of my mind, and fell upon my antagonists with 
fury that those who escaped will remember to their 
dying day. 

That others would press to the support of those 
who faced me I knew, so even as I fought I kept 
my wits at work, searching for an avenue of 

It came from an unexpected quarter out of the 
black night behind me. I had just disarmed a huge 
fellow who had given me a desperate struggle, and 
for a moment the blacks stood back for a breathing 

They eyed me with malignant fury, yet withal 
there was a touch of respect in their demeanor. 

" Thern," said one, " you fight like a Dator. But 
for your detestable yellow hair and your white skin 
you would be an honor to the First Born of Bar- 

" I am no thern," I said, and was about to explain 
that I was from another world, thinking that by 
patching a truce with these fellows and fighting with 
them against the therns I might enlist their aid in 
regaining my liberty. But just at that moment a 


heavy object smote me a resounding whack between 
my shoulders that nearly felled me to the ground. 

As I turned to meet this new enemy an object 
passed over my shoulder, striking one of my assail- 
ants squarely in the face and knocking him senseless 
to the sward. At the same instant I saw that the 
thing that had struck us was the trailing anchor of a 
rather fair-sized air vessel; possibly a ten-man 

The ship was floating slowly above us, not more 
than fifty feet over our heads. Instantly the one 
chance for escape that it offered presented itself to 
me. The vessel was slowly rising and now the 
anchor was beyond the blacks who faced me and 
several feet above their heads. 

With a bound that left them gaping in wide-eyed 
astonishment I sprang completely over them. A 
second leap carried me just high enough to grasp the 
now rapidly receding anchor. 

But I was successful, and there I hung by one 
hand, dragging through the branches of the higher 
vegetation of the gardens, while my late foemen 
shrieked and howled beneath me. 

Presently the vessel veered toward the west and 
then swung gracefully to the south. In another 
instant I was carried beyond the crest of the Golden 
Cliffs, out over the Valley Dor, where, six thousand 
feet below me, the Lost Sea of Korus lay shimmer- 
ing in the moonlight. 


Carefully I climbed to a sitting posture across the 
anchor's arms. I wondered if by chance the vessel 
might be deserted. I hoped so. Or possibly it might 
belong to a friendly people, and have wandered by 
accident almost within the clutches of the pirates 
and the therns. The fact that it was retreating from 
the scene of battle lent color to this hypothesis. 

But I decided to know positively, and at once, so, 
with the greatest caution, I commenced to climb 
slowly up the anchor chain toward the deck above 

One hand had just reached for the vessel's rail 
and found it when a fierce black face was thrust 
over the side and eyes rilled with triumphant hate 
looked into mine. 



FOR an instant the black pirate and I remained 
motionless, glaring into each other's eyes. Then 
a grim smile curled the handsome lips above me, 
as an ebony hand came slowly in sight from above 
the edge of the deck and the cold, hollow eye of a 
revolver sought the center of my forehead. 

Simultaneously my free hand shot out for the 
black throat, just within reach, and the ebony finger 
tightened on the trigger. The pirate's hissing, " Die, 
cursed them," was half choked in his windpipe by 
my clutching fingers. The hammer fell with a futile 
click upon an empty chamber. 

Before he could fire again I had pulled him so far 
over the edge of the deck that he was forced to drop 
his firearm and clutch the rail with both hands. 

My grasp upon his throat effectually prevented 
any outcry, and so we struggled in grim silence ; he 
to tear away from my hold, I to drag him over to 
his death. 

His face was taking on a livid hue, his eyes were 
bulging from their sockets. It was evident to him 
that he soon must die unless he tore loose from the 
steel fingers that were choking the life from him. 



With a final effort he threw himself further back 
upon the deck, at the same instant releasing his hold 
upon the rail to tear frantically with both hands 
at my fingers in an effort to drag them from his 

That little second was all that I awaited. With 
one mighty downward surge I swept him clear of 
the deck. His falling body came near to tearing 
me from the frail hold that my single free hand had 
upon the anchor chain and plunging me with him to 
the waters of the sea below. 

I did not relinquish my grasp upon him, how- 
ever, for I knew that a single shriek from those lips 
as he hurtled to his death in the silent waters of the 
sea would bring his comrades from above to avenge 

Instead I held grimly to him, choking, ever chok- 
ing, while his frantic struggles dragged me lower 
and lower toward the end of the chain. 

Gradually his contortions became spasmodic, les- 
sening by degrees until they ceased entirely. Then 
I released my hold upon him and in an instant he 
was swallowed by the black shadows far below. 

Again I climbed to the ship's rail. This time I 
succeeded in raising my eyes to the level of the 
r deck, where I could take a careful survey of the 
conditions immediately confronting me. 

The nearer moon had passed below the horizon, 
but the clear effulgence of the further satellite bathed 


the deck of the cruiser, bringing into sharp relief 
the bodies of six or eight black men sprawled about 
in sleep. 

Huddled close to the base of a rapid fire gun was 
a young white girl, securely bound. Her eyes were 
widespread in an expression of horrified anticipa- 
tion and fixed directly upon me as I came in sight 
above the edge of the deck. 

Unutterable relief instantly filled them as they 
fell upon the mystic jewel which sparkled in the 
center of my stolen headpiece. She did not speak. 
Instead her eyes warned me to beware the sleeping 
figures that surrounded her. 

Noiselessly I gained the deck. The girl nodded 
to me to approach her. As I bent low she whispered 
to me to release her. 

" I can aid you/' she said, " and you will need all 
the aid available when they awaken." 

" Some of them will awake in Korus," I replied 

She caught the meaning of my words, and the 
cruelty of her answering smile horrified me. One 
is not astonished by cruelty in a hideous face, but 
when it touches the features of a goddess whose fine- 
chiseled lineaments might more fittingly portray love 
and beauty, the contrast is appalling. 

Quickly I released her. 

" Give me a revolver," she whispered. " I can use 
that upon those your sword does not silence in time." 


I did as she bid. Then I turned toward the dis- 
tasteful work that lay before me. This was no time 
for fine compunctions, nor for a chivalry that these 
cruel demons would neither appreciate nor re- 

Stealthily I approached the nearest sleeper. When 
he awoke he was well on his journey to the bosom 
of Korus. His piercing shriek as consciousness re- 
turned to him came faintly up to us from the black 
depths beneath. 

The second awoke as I touched him, and, though 
I succeeded in hurling him from the cruiser's deck, 
his wild cry of alarm brought the remaining pirates 
to their feet. There were five of them. 

As they arose the girl's revolver spoke in sharp 
staccato and one sank back to the deck again to rise 
no more. 

The others rushed madly upon me with drawn 
swords. The girl evidently dared not fire for fear 
of wounding me, but I saw her sneak stealthily and 
cat-like toward the flank of the attackers. Then 
they were on me. 

For a few minutes I experienced some of the hot- 
test fighting I had ever passed through. The quar- 
ters were too small for foot work. It was stand 
your ground and give and take. At first I took 
considerably more than I gave, but presently I got 
beneath one fellow's guard and had the satisfaction 
of seeing him collapse upon the deck. 


The others redoubled their efforts. The crashing 
of their blades upon mine raised a terrific din that 
might have been heard for miles through the silent 
night. Sparks flew as steel smote steel, and then 
there was the dull and sickening sound of a shoulder 
bone parting beneath the keen edge of my Martian 

Three now faced me, but the girl was working her 
way to a point that would soon permit her to reduce 
the number by one at least. Then things happened 
with such amazing rapidity that I can scarce compre- 
hend even now all that took place in that brief in- 

The three rushed me with the evident purpose of 
forcing me back the few steps that would carry my 
body over the rail into the void below. At the same 
instant the girl fired and my sword arm made two 
moves. One man dropped with a bullet in his brain ; 
a sword ^ew clattering across the deck and dropped 
over the edge beyond as I disarmed one of my 
opponents and the third went down with my blade 
buried to the hilt in his breast and three feet of it 
protruding from his back, and falling wrenched the 
sword from my grasp. 

Disarmed myself, I now faced my remaining foe- 
man, whose own sword lay somewhere thousands 
of feet below us, lost in the Lost Sea. 

The new conditions seemed to please my ad- 
versary, for a smile of satisfaction bared his gleam- 


ing teeth as he rushed at me bare-handed. The 
great muscles which rolled beneath his glossy black 
hide evidently assured him that here was easy prey, 
not worth the trouble of drawing the dagger from 
his harness. 

I let him come almost upon me. Then I ducked 
beneath his outstretched arms, at the same time 
sidestepping to the right. Pivoting on my left toe, 
I swung a terrific right to his jaw, and, like a felled 
ox, he dropped in his tracks. 

A low, silvery laugh rang out behind me. 

" You are no them/' said the sweet voice of my 
companion, " for all your golden locks or the harness 
of Sator Throg. Never lived there upon all Bar- 
soom before one who could fight as you have fought 
this night. Who are you?" 

" I am John Carter, Prince of the House of 
Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium," I replied. "And 
whom," I added, "has the honor of serving been 
accorded me?" 

She hesitated a moment before speaking. Then 
she asked: 

"You are no thern. Are you an enemy of the 
therns ? " 

" I have been in the territory of the therns for a 
day and a half. During that entire time my life has 
been in constant danger. I have been harassed and 
persecuted. Armed men and fierce beasts have been 
set upon me. I had no quarrel with the therns be- 


■ — ^— ■ « 

fore, but can you wonder that I feel no great love 
for them now? I have spoken." 

She looked at me intently for several minutes be- 
fore she replied. It was as though she were attempt- 
ing to read my inmost soul, to judge my character 
and my standards of chivalry in that long-drawn, 
searching gaze. 

Apparently the inventory satisfied her. 

" I am Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang, Holy 
Hekkador of the Holy Therns, Father of Therns, 
Master of Life and Death upon Barsoom, Brother 
of Issus, Princess of Life Eternal. ,, 

At that moment I noticed that the black I had 
dropped with my fist was commencing to show 
signs of returning consciousness. I sprang to his 
side. Stripping his harness from him I securely 
bound his hands behind his back, and after similarly 
fastening his feet tied him to a heavy gun carriage. 

"Why not the simpler way?" asked Phaidor. 

"I do not understand. What 'simpler way?'" 
I replied. 

With a slight shrug of her lovely shoulders she 
made a gesture with her hands personating the cast- 
ing of something over the craft's side. 

"I am no murderer," I said. "I kill in self- 
defense only." 

She looked at me narrowly. Then she puckered 
those divine brows of hers, and shook her head. Sh? 
could not comprehend. 


Well, neither had my own Dejah Thoris been 
able to understand what to her had seemed a foolish 
and dangerous policy toward enemies. Upon Bar- 
soom, quarter is neither asked nor given, and each 
dead man means so much more of the waning re- 
sources of this dying planet to be divided amongst 
those who survive. 

But there seemed a subtile difference here between 
the manner in which this girl contemplated the dis- 
patching of an enemy and the tender-hearted regret 
of my own princess for the stern necessity which 
demanded it. 

I think that Phaidor regretted the thrill that the 
spectacle would have afforded her rather than the 
fact that my decision left another enemy alive to 
threaten us. 

The man had now regained full possession of his 
faculties, and was regarding us intently from where 
he lay bound upon the deck. He was a hand- 
some fellow, clean limbed and powerful, with an 
intelligent face and features of such exquisite 
chiseling that Adonis himself might have erwied 

The vessel, unguided, had been moving slowly 
across the valley ; but now I thought it time to take 
the helm and direct her course. Only in a very 
general way could I guess the location of the Valley 
Dor. That it was far south of the equator was 
evident from the constellations, but I was not suffi- 


ciently Martian astronomer to come much closer 
than a - ugh guess without the splendid charts and 
delicate instruments with which, as an officer of the 
Heliumite Navy, I had formerly reckoned the posi- 
tions of the vessels on which I sailed. 

That a northerly course would quickest lead me 
toward the more settled portions of the planet im- 
mediately decided the direction that I should steer. 
Beneath my hand the cruiser swung gracefully about. 
Then the button which controlled the repulsive rays 
sent us soaring far out into space. With speed 
lever pulled to the last notch, we raced toward the 
north as we rose ever farther and farther above, 
that terrible valley of death. 

As we passed at a dizzy height over the narrow 
domains of the therns the flash of powder far below 
bore mute witness to the ferocity of the battle that 
still raged along that cruel frontier. No sound of 
conflict reached our ears, for in the rarined atmos- 
phere of our great altitude no sound wave could 
penetrate; they were dissipated in thin air far be- 
low us. 

It became intensely cold. Breathing was difficult. 
The girl, Phaidor, and the black pirate kept their 
eyes glued upon me. At length the girl spoke. 

"Unconsciousness comes quickly at this altitude," 
she said quietly. " Unless you are inviting death for 
Us all you had best drop, and that quickly." 

There was no fear in her voice. It was as one 


might say : " You had better carry an umbrella. It 
is going to rain." 

I dropped the vessel quickly to a lower level. Nor 
was I a moment too soon. The girl had swooned. 

The black, too, was unconscious, while I, myself, 
retained my senses, I think, only by sheer will. The;, 
one on whom all responsibility rests is apt to endure 
the most. 

We were swinging along low above the foothills 
of the Otz. It was comparatively warm and there 
was plenty of air for our starved lungs, so I was 
not surprised to see the black open his eyes, and a 
moment later the girl also. 

" It was a close call," she said. 

" It has taught me two things though," I replied. 


" That even Phaidor, daughter of the Master of 
Life and Death, is mortal," I said, smiling. 

" There is immortality only in Issus," she replied. 
"And Issus is for the race of therns alone. Thus 
am I immortal." 

I caught a fleeting grin passing across the features 
of the black as he heard her words. I did not then 
understand why he smiled. Later I was to learn, 
and she, too, in a most horrible manner. 

"If the other thing you have just learned," she 
continued, "has led to as erroneous deductions as 
the first you are little richer in knowledge than you 
were before." 


" The other," I replied, " is that our dusky friend 
here does not hail from the nearer moon — he liked 
to died at a few thousand feet above Barsoom. Had 
we continued the five thousand miles that lie between 
Thuria and the planet he would have been but the 
frozen memory of a man." 

Phaidor looked at the black in evident astonish* 

"If you are not of Thuria, then where?" she 

He shrugged his shoulders and turned his eyes 
elsewhere, but did not reply. 

The girl stamped her little foot in a peremptory 

" The daughter of Matai Shang is not accustomed 
to having her queries remain unanswered," she said. 
" One of the lesser breed should feel honored that a 
member of the holy race that was born to inherit 
life eternal should deign even to notice him." 

Again the black smiled that wicked, knowing 

"Xodar, Dator of the First Born of Barsoom, 
is accustomed to give commands, not to receive 
them," replied the black pirate. Then, turning 
to me, "What are your intentions concerning 

"I intend taking you both back to Helium," I 
said. " No harm will come to you. You will find 
the red men of Helium a kindly and magnanimous 


race, but if they listen to me there will be no more 
voluntary pilgrimages down the River Iss, and the 
impossible belief that they have cherished for ages 
will be shattered into a thousand pieces." 

"Are you of Helium ? " he asked. 
1 "lama Prince of the House of Tardos Mors, 
Jeddak of Helium," I replied, "but I am not of 
Barsoom. I am of another world." 

Xodar looked at me intently for a few moments. 
" I can well believe that you are not of Barsoom," 
he said at length. " None of this world could have 
bested eight of the First Born single-handed. But 
how is it that you wear the golden hair and the 
jeweled circlet of a Holy Thern? " He emphasized 
the word holy with a touch of irony. 

"I had forgotten them," I said. "They are the 
spoils of conquest," and with a sweep of my hand I 
removed the disguise from my head. 

When the black's eyes fell on my close-cropped 
black hair they opened in astonishment. Evidently 
he had looked for the bald pate of a thern. 

"You are indeed of another world," he said, a 
touch of awe in his voice. "With the skin of a 
ithern, the black hair of a First Born and the muscles 
of a dozen Dators it was no disgrace even for Xodar 
to acknowledge your supremacy. A thing he could 
never do were you a Barsoomian," he added. 

" You are traveling several laps ahead of me, mtf 
friend," T interrupted. " I glean that your name is 


Xodar, but whom, pray, are the First Born, and what 
a Dator, and why. if you were conquered by a Bar- 
soomian, could you not acknowledge it? M 

"The First Born of Barsoom," he explained, 
"are the race of black men of which I am a Dator, 
or, as the lesser Barsoomians would say, Prince. 
My race is the oldest on the planet. We trace our 
lineage, unbroken, direct to the Tree of Life which 
flourished in the center of the Valley Dor twenty- 
three million years ago. 

"For countless ages the fruit of this tree under- 
went the gradual changes of evolution, passing by 
degrees from true plant life to a combination of 
plant and animal. In the first stages the fruit of the 
tree possessed only the power of independent muscu- 
lar action, while the stem remained attached to the 
parent plant; later a brain developed in the fruit, 
so that hanging there by their long stems they 
thought and moved as individuals. 

"Then, with the development of perceptions came 
a comparison of them; judgments were reached and 
compared, and thus reason and the power to reason 
were born upon Barsoom. 

"Ages passed. Many forms of life came and 
wettt upon the Tree of Life, but still all were 
attached to the parent plant by stems of varying 
lengths. At length the fruit upon the tree consisted 
in tiny plant men, such as we now see reproduced in 
*uch huge dimensions in the Valley Dor, but still 


hanging to the limbs and branches of the tree 
by the stems which grew from the tops of their 

" The buds from which the plant men blossomed 
resembled large nuts about a foot in diameter, 
divided by double partition walls into four sections. 
In one section grew the plant man, in another a six- 
teen-legged worm, in the third the progenitor of the 
white ape and in the fourth the primeval black man 
of Barsoom. 

"When the bud burst the plant man remained 
dangling at the end of his stem, but the three other 
sections fell to the ground, where the efforts of their 
imprisoned occupants to escape sent them hopping 
about in all directions. 

" Thus, as time went on, all Barsoom was covered 
with these imprisoned creatures. For countless ages 
they lived their long lives within their hard shells, 
hopping and skipping about the broad planet; falling 
into rivers, lakes, and seas, to be still further spread 
about the surface of the new world. 

" Countless billions died before the first black man 
broke through his prison walls into the light of day. 
Prompted by curiosity, he broke open other shells 
and the peopling of Barsoom commenced. 

" The pure strain of the blood of this first black 
inan has remained untainted by admixture with 
other creatures in the race of which I am a memb r ; 
but from the sixteen-legged worm, the first wfc'te 


■ — * 

ape and renegade black men has sprung every other 
form of animal life upon Barsoom. 

"The therns," and he smiled maliciously as he 
spoke, " are but the result ?* ages of evolution from 
the pure white ape of antiquity. They are a lower 
order still. There is but one race of true and im- 
mortal humans on Barsoom It is the race of black 

" The Tree of Life is dead, but before it died the 
plant men learned to detach themselves from it and 
roam the face of Barsoom with the other children 
of the First Parent. 

" Now their bisexuality permits them to reproduce 
themselves after the manner of true plants, but 
otherwise they have progressed but little in all the 
ages of their existence. Their actions and move- 
ments are largely matters of instinct and not guided 
to any great extent by reason, since the brain of a 
plant man is but a trifle larger than the end of your 
smallest finger. They live upon vegetation and the 
blood of animals, and their brain is just large enough 
to direct their movements in the direction of food, 
and to translate the food sensations which are car- 
ried to it from their eyes and ears. They have no 
sense of self-preservation and so are entirely without 
fear in the face of danger. That is why they are 
such terrible antagonists in combat/' 

I wondered why the black man took such pains to 
'discourse thus at length to enemies upon the genesis 


of life Barsoomian. It seemed a strangely inoppor- 
tune moment for a proud member of a proud race 
to unbend in casual conversation with a captor. 
Especially in view of the fact that the black still lay 
securely bound upon the deck. 

It was the faintest straying of his eye beyond me 
for the barest fraction of a second that explained his 
motive for thus dragging out my interest in his 
truly absorbing story. 

He lay a little forward of where I stood at the 
levers, and thus he faced the stern of the vessel as 
he addressed me. It was at the end of his descrip- 
tion of the plant men that I caught his eye fixed 
momentarily upon something behind me. 

Nor could I be mistaken in the swift gleam of 
triumph that brightened those dark orbs for an in* 

Some time before I had reduced our speed, for we 
had left the Valley Dor many miles astern, and I felt 
comparatively safe. 

I turned an apprehensive glance behind me, and 
the sight that I saw froze the new-born hope of 
freedom that had been springing up within me. 

A great battleship, forging silent and unlighteij 
through the dark night, loomed close astern. 



NOW I realized why the black pirate had kept 
me engrossed with his strange tale. For miles 
he had sensed the approach of succor, and but for 
that single tell-tale glance the battleship would have 
been directly above us in another moment, and the 
boarding party which was doubtless even now 
swinging in their harness from the ship's keel, would 
have swarmed our deck, placing my rising hope of 
escape in sudden and total eclipse. 

I was too old a hand in aerial warfare to be at a 
loss now for the right maneuver. Simultaneously 
I reversed the engines and dropped the little vessel 
a sheer hundred feet. 

Above my head I could see the dangling forms of 
the boarding party as the battleship raced over us. 
Then I rose at a sharp angle, throwing my speed 
lever to its last notch. 

Like a bolt from a crossbow my splendid craft 
shot its steel prow straight at the whirring propellers 
of the giant above us. If I could but touch them the 
huge bulk would be disabled for hours and escape 
once more possible. 

At the same instant the sun shot above the hori- 



zon, disclosing a hundred grim, black faces peering 
over the stem of the battleship upon us. 

At sight of us a shout of rage went up from a 
hundred throats. Orders were shouted, but it was 
too late to save the giant propellers, and with a crash 
we rammed them. 

Instantly with the shock of impact I reversed my 
engine, but my prow was wedged in the hole it had 
made in the battleship's stern. Only a second I hung 
there before tearing away, but that second was 
amply long to swarm my deck with black devils. 

There was no fight. In the first place there was 
no room to fight. We were simply submerged by 
numbers. Then as swords menaced me a command 
from Xodar stayed the hands of his fellows. 

"Secure them/' he said, "but do not injure 

Several of the pirates already had released Xodar. 
He now personally attended to my disarming and 
saw that I was properly bound. At least he thought 
that the binding was secure. It would have been had 
I been a Martian, but I had to smile at the puny 
strands that confined my wrists. When the time 
came I could snap them as they had been cotton 

The girl they bound also, and then they fastened 
us together. In the meantime they had brought our 
craft alongside the disabled battleship, and soon we 
were transported to the latter's deck. 


Full}" a thousand black men manned the great 
engine of destruction. Her decks were crowded with 
them as they pressed forward as far as discipline 
would permit to get a glimpse o r meir captives. 

The girl's beauty elicited many brutal comments 
and vulgar jests. It was evident that these self- 
thought supermen were far inferior to the red men 
of Barsoom in refinement and in chivalry. 

My close-cropped black hair and thern complexion 
were the subjects of much comment. When Xodar 
told his fellow-nobles of my fighting ability and 
strange origin they crowded about me with numerous 

The fact that I wore the harness and metal of a 
thern who had been killed by a member of my party 
convinced them that I was an enemy of their 
hereditary foes, and placed me on a better footing 
in their estimation. 

Without exception the blacks were handsome men, 
and well built. The officers were conspicuous 
through the wondrous magnificence of their re- 
splendent trappings. Many harnesses were so en- 
crusted with gold, platinum, silver and precious 
stones as to entirely hide the leather beneath. 

The harness of the commanding officer was a solid 
mass of diamonds. Against the ebony background 
of his skin they blazed out with a peculiarly accen- 
tuated effulgence. The whole scene was enchanting. 
The handsome men; the barbaric splendor of their 


*■ ■ 

accouterments ; the polished skeel wood of the deck; 
the gloriously grained sorapus of the cabins, inlaid 
with priceless jewels and precious metals in intricate 
and beautiful design; the burnished gold of hand 
rails ; the shining metal of the guns. 

Phaidor and I were taken below decks, where, 
stili fast bound, we were thrown into a small com- 
partment which contained a single port hole. As our 
escort left us they barred the door behind them. 

We could hear the men working on the broken 
propellers, and from the port hole we could see that 
the vessel was drifting lazily toward the south. 

For some time neither of us spoke. Each was oc- 
cupied with his own thoughts. For my part I was 
wondering as to the fate of Tars Tarkas and the 
girl, Thuvia. 

Even if they succeeded in eluding pursuit they 
must eventually fall into the hands of either red 
men or green, and as fugitives from the Valley Dor 
they could look for but little else than a swift and 
terrible death. 

How I wished that I might have accompanied 
them. It seemed to me that I could not fail but im- 
press upon the intelligent red men of Barsoom the 
wicked deception that a cruel and senseless super- 
stition had foisted upon them. 

Tardos Mors would believe me. Of that I was 
positive. And that he would have the courage of his 
convictions my knowledge of his character assured 


me. Dejah Thoris would believe me. Not a doubt 
as to that entered my head. Then there were a thou- 
sand of my red and green warrior friends whom I 
knew would face eternal damnation gladly for my 
sake. Like Tars Tarkas, where I led they would 

My only danger lay in that should I ever escape 
the black pirates it might be to fall into the hands of 
unfriendly red or green men. Then it would mean 
short shrift for me. 

Well, there seemed little to worry about on that 
score, for the likelihood of my ever escaping the 
blacks was extremely remote. 

The girl and I were linked together by a rope 
which permitted us to move only about three cr four 
feet from each other. When we had entered the 
compartment we had seated ourselves upon a low 
bench beneath the port hole. The bench was the 
only furniture of the room. It was of sorapus wood. 
The floor, ceiling and walls were of carborundum 
aluminum, a light, impenetrable composition exten- 
sively utilized in the construction of Martian fight- 
ing ships. 

As I had sat meditating upon the future my eyes 
had been riveted upon the port hole which was just 
level with them as I sat. Suddenly I looked toward 
Phaidor. She was regarding me with a strange ex- 
pression I had not before seen upon her face. She 
was very beautiful then. 


Instantly her white lids veiled her eyes, and 1 
thought I discovered a delicate flush tinging her 
cheek. Evidently she was embarrassed at having 
been detected in the act of staring at a lesser creature, 
I thought. 

"Do you find the study of the lower orders in- 
teresting ?" I asked, laughing. 

She looked up again with a nervous but relieved 
"ittle laugh. 

"O very," she said, "especially when they have 
such excellent profiles." 

It was my turn to flush, but I did not. I felt that 
she was poking fun at me, and I admired a brave 
heart that could look for humor on the road to death, 
and so I laughed with her. 

"Do you know where we are going?" she 

" To solve the mystery of the eternal hereafter, I 
imagine," I replied. 

" I am going to a worse fate than that," she said, 
with a little shudder. 

"What do you mean?" 

" I can only guess," she replied, " since no them 
damsel of all the millions that have been stolen away 
by black pirates during the ages they have raided 
our domains has ever returned to narrate her ex- 
periences among them. That they never take a man 
prisoner lends strength to the belief that the fate 
of the girls they steal is worse than death." 


"Is it not a just retribution?" I could not help 
but ask. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Do not the therns themselves do likewise with 
the poor creatures who take the voluntary pilgrim- 
age down the River of Mystery? Was not Thuvia 
for fifteen years a plaything and a slave? Is it less 
than just that you should suffer as you have caused 
others to suffer?" 

"JYou do not understand," she replied. "We 
therns are a holy race. It is an honor to a lesser crea- 
ture to be a slave among us. Did we not occasionally 
save a few of the lower orders that stupidly float 
down an unknown river to an unknown end all 
would become the prey of the plant men and the 

" But do you not by every means encourage the 
superstition among those of the outside world?" I 
argued. "That is the wickedest of your deeds. Can 
you tell me why you foster the cruel deception ? " 

"All life on Barsoom," she said, " is created solely 
for the support of the race of therns. How else could 
we live did the outer world not furnish our labor 
and our food ? Think you that a thern would demean 
himself by labor?" 

"It is true then that you eat human flesh?" I 
asked in horror. 

She looked at me in pitying commiseration for my 


" Truly we eat the flesh of the lower orders. Do 
not you also ? " 

" The flesh of beasts, yes," I replied, " but not the 
flesh of man." 

"As man may eat of the flesh of beasts, so may 
gods eat of the flesh of man. The Holy Therns are 
the gods of Barsoom." 

I was disgusted and I imagine that I showed it. 

"You are an unbeliever now," she continued 
gently, "but should we be fortunate enough to es- 
cape the clutches of the black pirates and come 
again to the court of Matai Shang I think that we 
shall find an argument to convince you of the error 
of your ways. And — ," she hesitated, "perhaps we 
shall find a way to keep you as — as — one of us." 

Again her eyes dropped to the floor, and a faint 
color suffused her cheek. I could not understand her 
meaning; nor did I for a long time. Dejah Thoris 
was wont to say that in some things 1 was a veri- 
table simpleton, and I guess that she was right. 

" I fear that I would ill requite your father's hos- 
pitality," I answered, "since the first thing that I 
should do were I a thern would be to set an armed 
guard at the mouth of the River Iss to escort the 
poor deluded voyagers back to the outer world. Also 
should I devote my life to the extermination of the 
hideous plant men and their horrible companions, 
the great white apes." 

She looked at me really horror struck. 


" No, no," she cried, " you must not say such ter^ 
ribly sacrilegious things — you must not even think 
them. Should they ever guess that you entertained 
such frightful thoughts, should we chance to regain 
the temples of the therns, they would mete out a 

frightful death to you. Not even my — my " 

Again she flushed, and started over. "Not even I 
could save you." 

I said no more. Evidently it was useless. She was 
even more steeped in superstition than the Martians 
of the outer world. They only worshiped a beau- 
tiful hope for a life of love and peace and happiness 
in the hereafter. The therns worshiped the hideous 
plant men and the apes, or at least they reverenced 
them as the abodes of the departed spirits of their 
own dead. 

At this point the door of our prison opened to 
admit Xodar. 

He smiled pleasantly at me, and when he smiled 
his expression was kindly — anything but cruel or 

"Since you cannot escape under any circum- 
stances," he said, "I cannot see the necessity for 
keeping you confined below. I will cut your bonds 
and you may come on deck. You will witness some- 
thing very interesting, and as you never shall return 
to the outer world it will do no harm to permit you 
to see it. You will see what no other than the First 
Born and their slaves know the existence of — the 


subterranean entrance to the Holy Land, to the real 
heaven of Barsoom. 

" It will be an excellent lesson for this daughter of 
the therns, ,, he added, "for she shall see the Temple 
of Issus, and Issus, perchance, shall embrace her." 

Phaidor's head went high. 

"What blasphemy is this, dog of a pirate?" she 
cried. " Issus would wipe out your entire breed and 
you ever came within sight of her temple." 

" You have much to learn, thern," replied Xodar, 
with an ugly smile, " nor do I envy you the manner 
in which you will learn it." 

As we came on deck I saw to my surprise that the 
vessel was passing over a great field of snow and 
ice. As far as the eye could reach in any direction 
naught else was visible. 

There could be but one solution to the mystery. 
We were above the south polar ice cap. Only at the 
poles of Mars is there ice or snow upon the planet. 
No sign of life appeared below us. Evidently we 
were too far south even for the great fur-bearing 
animals which the Martians so delight in hunting. 

Xodar was at my side as I stood looking out over 
the ship's rail. 

" What course ? " I asked him. 

"A little west of south," he replied. "You will 
see the Otz Valley directly. We shall skirt it for a 
few hundred miles." 

" Jhe Otz Valley ! " I exclaimed ; " but man, is not 


——————— ■ i— —■■— ■ i n ■■■!■!■■ ii » P —. i ■■ ! ■» ii i mi .. 

there where lie the domains of the therns from 
which I but just escaped ?" 

"Yes," answered Xodar. "You crossed this ice 
field last night in the long chase that you led us. The 
Otz Valley lies in a mighty depression at the south 
pole. It is sunk thousands of feet below the level 
of the surrounding country, like a great round bowl. 
A hundred miles from its northern boundary rise 
the Otz Mountains which circle the inner Valley of 
Dor, in the exact center of which lies the Lost Sea 
of Korus. On the shore of this sea stands the 
Golden Temple of Issus in the Land of the First 
Born. It is there that we are bound." 

As I looked I commenced to realize why it was 
that in all the ages only one had escaped from the 
Valley Dor. My only wonder was that even the one 
had been successful. To cross this frozen, wind- 
swept waste of bleak ice alone and on foot would be 

"Only by air boat could the journey be made," 
I finished aloud. 

" It was thus that one did escape the therns in by- 
gone times; but none has ever escaped the First 
Born," said Xodar, with a touch of pride in his 

We had now reached the southernmost extremity 
of the great ice barrier. It ended abruptly in a sheer 
wall thousands of feet high at the base of which 
stretched a level valley, broken here and there by low 


rolling hills and little clumps of forest, and with 
tiny rivers formed by the melting of the ice barrier 
at its base. 

Once we passed far above what seemed to be a 
deep canyon-like rift stretching from the ice wall 
on the north across the valley as far as the eye could 

"That is the bed of the River Iss," said Xodar. 
" It runs far beneath the ice field, and below the leveJ 
of the Valley Otz, but its canyon is open here." 

Presently I descried what I took to be a village, 
and pointing it out to Xodar asked him what it 
might be. 

" It is a village of lost souls," he answered, laugh- 
ing. "This strip between the ice barrier and the 
mountains is considered neutral ground. Some turn 
off from their voluntary pilgrimage down the Iss, 
and, scaling the awful walls of its canyon below us, 
stop in this valley. Also a slave now and then es- 
capes from the therns and makes his way hither. 

"They do not attempt to recapture such, since 
there is no escape from this outer valley, and as a 
matter of fact they fear the patrolling cruisers of 
the First Born too much to venture from their own 

" The poor creatures of this outer valley are not 
molested by us since they have nothing that we de- 
sire, nor are they numerically strong enough to give 
us an interesting fight — so we too leave them alone, 


"There are several villages of them, but they 
have increased in numbers but little in many 
years since they are always warring among them- 

Now we swung a little north of west, leaving the 
valley of lost souls, and shortly I discerned over 
our starboard bow what appeared to be a black 
mountain rising from the desolate waste of ice. It 
was not high and seemed to have a flat top. 

Xodar had left us to attend to some duty on the 
vessel, and Phaidor and I stood alone beside the rail. 
The girl had not once spoken since we had been 
brought to the deck. 

"Is what he has been telling me true?" I asked 

"In part, yes," she answered. "That about the 
outer valley is true, but what he says of the location 
of the Temple of Issus in the center of his country 
is false. If it is not false — " she hesitated. "Oh, 
it cannot be true, it cannot be true. For if it were 
true then for countless ages have my people gone to 
torture and ignominious death at the hands of their 
cruel enemies, instead of to the beautiful Life Eternal 
that we have been taught to believe Issus holds 
for us." 

"As the lesser Barsoomians of the outer world 
have been lured by you to the terrible Valley Dor, 
so may it be that the therns themselves have been 
lured by the First Born to an equally horrid fate," 


j— MM— ^i— ■ ■ ■ ■■ — ■ — ■ m 1 !■■■■■■■■■! mmtmmt mmm i— ■ ■ ■ ^j 

I suggested. " It would be a stern and awful retri- 
bution, Phaidor; but a just one." 

" I cannot believe it," she said. 

"We shall see," I answered, and then we fell 
silent again for we were rapidly approaching the 
black mountain, which in some indefinable way 
seemed linked with the answer to our problem. 

As we neared the dark, truncated cone the vessel's 
speed was diminished until we barely moved. Then 
we topped the crest of the mountain and below us 
I saw yawning the mouth of a huge circular well, 
the bottom of which was lost in inky blackness. 

The diameter of this enormous pit was fully a 
thousand feet. The walls were smooth and appeared 
to be composed of a black, basaltic rock. 

For a moment the vessel hovered motionless di- 
rectly above the center of the gaping void, then 
slowly she began to settle into the black chasm. 
Lower and lower she sank until as darkness en- 
veloped us her lights were thrown on and in the dim 
halo of her own radiance the monster battleship 
dropped on and on down into what seemed to me 
must be the very bowels of Barsoom. 

For quite half an hour we descended and then the 
shaft terminated abruptly in the dome of a mighty 
subterranean world. Below us rose and fell the bil- 
lows of a buried sea. A phosphorescent radiance il- 
luminated the scene. Thousands of ships dotted the 
bosom of the ocean. Little islands rose here and there 


to support the strange and colorless vegetation of 
this strange world. 

Slowly and with majestic grace the battleship 
dropped until she rested on the water. Her great pro- 
pellers had been drawn in and housed during our 
descent of the shaft and in their place had been run 
out the smaller but more powerful water propellers. 
As these commenced to revolve the ship took up its 
journey once more, riding the new element as buoy- 
antly and as safely as she had the air. 

Phaidor and I were dumbfounded. Neither had 
either heard or dreamed that such a world existed 
beneath the surface of Barsoom. 

Nearly all the vessels we saw were war craft. 
There were a few lighters and barges, but none of 
the great merchantmen such as ply the upper air be- 
tween the cities of the outer world. 

" Here is the harbor of the navy of the First 
Born/' said a voice behind us, and turning we saw 
Xodar watching us with an amused smile on his 

" This sea," he continued, " is larger than Korus. 
It receives the waters of the lesser sea above it. To 
keep it from filling above a certain level we have 
four great pumping stations that force the oversupply 
back into the reservoirs far north from which the 
red men draw the water which irrigates their farm 

A new light burst on me with this explanation. 


The red men had always considered it a miracle that 
caused great columns of water to spurt from the 
solid rock of their reservoir sides to increase the 
supply of the precious liquid which is so scarce in 
the outer world of Mars. 

Never had their learned men been able to fathom 
the secret of the source of this enormous volume 
of water. As ages passed they had simply come to 
accept it as a matter of course and ceased to question 

its origin. 

We passed several islands on which were strangely 
shaped circular buildings, apparently roofless, and 
pierced midway between the ground and their tops 
with small, heavily barred windows. They bore the 
earmarks of prisons, which were further accentuated 
by the armed guards who squatted on low benches 
without, or patrolled the short beach lines. 

Few of these islets contained over an acre of 
ground, but presently we sighted a much larger one 
directly ahead. This proved to be our destination, 
and the great ship was soon made fast against the 
steep shore. 

Xodar signalled us to follow him, and with a half 
dozen officers and men we left the battleship and ap- 
proached a large oval structure a couple of hundred 
yards from the shore. 

" You shall soon see Issus," said Xodar to Phai- 
dor. " The few prisoners we take are presented to 
her. Occasionally she selects slaves from among 


them to replenish the ranks of her handmaidens. 
None serves Issus above a single year/' and there 
was a grim smile on the black's lips that lent a 
Cruel and sinister meaning to his simple statement. 

Phaidor, though loath to believe that Issus was 
allied to such as these had commenced to entertain 
doubts and fears. She clung very closely to me, no 
longer the proud daughter of the Master of Life 
and Death upon Barsoom, but a young and fright- 
ened girl in the power of relentless enemies. 

The building which we now entered was entirely 
roofless. In its center was a long tank of water, set 
below the level of the floor like the swimming pool 
of a natatorium. Near one side of the pool floated 
an odd-looking black object. Whether it were some 
strange monster of these buried waters, or a queer 
raft, I could not at once perceive. 

We were soon to know, however, for as we reached 
the edge of the pool directly above the thing, Xodar 
cried out a few words in a strange tongue. Im- 
mediately a hatch cover was raised from the surface 
of the object, and a black seaman sprang from the 
bowels of this strange craft. 

Xodar addressed the seaman. 

"Transmit to your officer," he said, "the com- 
mands of Dator Xodar. Say to him that Dator 
Xodar with officers and men, escorting two prison- 
ers, would be transported to the gardens of Issus 
beside the Golden Temple." 


"Blessed be the shell of thy first ancestor, most 
noble Dator," replied the man. " It shall be done 
even as thou sayest," and raising both hands, palms 
backward, above his head after the manner of salute 
which is common to all races of Barsoom, he disap- 
peared once more into the entrails of his ship. 

A moment later an officer resplendent in the gor- 
geous trappings of his rank appeared on deck and 
welcomed Xodar to the vessel, and in the latter's 
wake we filed aboard and below. 

The cabin in which we found ourselves extended 
entirely across the ship, having port holes on either 
side below the water line. No sooner were all below 
than a number of commands were given, in accord- 
ance with which the hatch was closed and secured, 
and the vessel commenced to vibrate to the rhythmic 
purr of its machinery. 

" Where can we be going in such a tiny pool of 
water ?" asked Phaidor. 

" Not up," I replied, " for I noticed particularly 
that while the building is roofless it is covered with 
a strong metal grating." 

" Then where ? " she asked again. 

"From the appearance of the craft I judge we 
are going down," I replied. 

Phaidor shuddered. For such long ages have the 
waters of Barsoom's seas been a thing of tradition 
only that even this daughter of the therns, born as 
she had been within sight of Mars' only remaining 


sea, had the same terror of deep water as is a com- 
mon attribute of all Martians. 

Presently the sensation of sinking became very 
apparent. We were going down swiftly. Now we 
could hear the water rushing past the port holes, and 
in the dim light that filtered through them to the 
water beyond the swirling eddies were plainly 

Phaidor grasped my arm. 

" Save me ! " she whispered. " Save me and your 
every wish shall be granted. Anything within the 
power of the Holy Therns to give will be yours. 
Phaidor — " she stumbled a little here, and then in 
a very low voice, " Phaidor already is yours." 

I felt very sorry for the poor child, and placed my 
hand over hers where it rested on my arm. I presume 
my motive was misunderstood, for with a swift 
glance about the apartment to assure herself that we 
were alone, she threw both her arms about my neck 
and dragged my face down to hers. 



THE confession of love which the girl's fright 
had wrung from her touched me deeply; but 
it humiliated me as well, since I felt that in some 
thoughtless word or act I had given her reason to 
believe that I reciprocated her affection. 

Never have I been much of a ladies' man, being 
more concerned with fighting and kindred arts which 
have ever seemed to me more befitting a man than 
mooning over a scented glove four sizes too small 
for him, or kissing a dead flower that has begun to 
smell like a cabbage. So I was quite at a loss as to 
what to do or say. A thousand times rather face the 
wild hordes of the dead sea bottoms than meet the 
eyes of this beautiful young girl and tell her the 
thing that I must tell her. 

But there was nothing else to be done, and so I 
did it. Very clumsily too, I fear. 

Gently I unclasped her hands from about my neck, 
and still holding them in mine I told her the story 
of my love for Dejah Thoris. That of all the women 
of two worlds that I had known and admired during 
my long life she alone had I loved. 

The tale did not seem to please her. Like a tigress 



she sprang, panting, to her feet. Her beautiful face 
was distorted in an expression of horrible malevo- 
lence. Her eyes fairly blazed into mine. 

" Dog," she hissed. " Dog of a blasphemer ! Think 
you that Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang, suppli- 
cates? She commands. What to her is your puny 
outer world passion for the vile creature you chose 
in your other life? 

" Phaidor has glorified you with her love, and you 
have spurned her. Ten thousand unthinkably atro- 
cious deaths could not atone for the affront that 
you have put upon me. The thing that you call Dejah 
Thoris shall die the most horrible of them all. You 
have sealed the warrant for her doom. 

"And you ! You shall be the meanest slave in the 
service of the goddess you have attempted to humil- 
iate. Tortures and ignominies shall be heaped upon 
you until you grovel at my feet asking the boon of 

" In my gracious generosity I shall at length grant 
your prayer, and from the high balcony of the 
Golden Cliffs I shall watch the great white apes tea % 
you asunder." 

She had it all fixed up. The whole lovely program 
[from start to finish. It amazed me to think that one 
so divinely beautiful could at the same time be so 
fiendishly vindictive. It occurred to me, however, 
that she had overlooked one little factor in her re- 
venge, and so, without any intent to add to her dis- 


comfiture, but rather to permit her to rearrange her 
plans along more practical lines, I pointed to the 
nearest port hole. 

Evidently she had entirely forgotten her sur- 
roundings and her present circumstances, for a single 
glance at the dark, swirling waters without sent her 
crumpled upon a low bench, where with her face 
buried in her arms she sobbed more like a very un- 
happy little girl than a proud and all-powerful god- 

Down, down we continued to sink until the heavy 
glass of the port holes became noticeably warm from 
the heat of the water without. Evidently we were 
very far beneath the surface crust of Mars. 

Presently our downward motion ceased, and I 
could hear the propellers swirling through the water 
at our stern and forcing us ahead at high speed. It 
was very dark down there, but the light from our 
port holes, and the reflection from what must have 
been a powerful searchlight on the submarine's nose 
showed that we were forging through a narrow 
passage, rock lined, and tube-like. 

After a few minutes the propellers ceased their 
whirring. We came to a full stop, and then com- 
menced to rise swiftly toward the surface. Soon 
the light from without increased and we came to a 

Xodar entered the cabin with his men. 

" Come," he said, and we followed him through 


the hatchway which had been opened by one of the 

We found ourselves in a small subterranean vault, 
in the center of which was the pool in which lay our 
submarine, floating as we had first seen her with 
only her black back showing. 

Around the edge of the pool was a level platform, 
and then the walls of the cave rose perpendicularly 
for a few feet to arch toward the center of the low 
roof. The walls about the ledge were pierced with a 
number of entrances to dimly lighted passageways. 

Toward one of these our captors led us, and after 
a short walk halted before a steel cage which lay at 
the bottom of a shaft rising above us as far as one 
could see. 

The cage proved to be one of the common types 
of elevator cars that I had seen in other parts of 
Barsoom. They are operated by means of enormous 
magnets which are suspended at the top of the shaft. 
By an electrical device the volume of magnetism 
generated is regulated and the speed of the car 

In long stretches they move at a sickening speed, 
especially on the upward trip, since the small force 
of gravity inherent to Mars results in very little op- 
position to the powerful force above. 

Scarcely had the door of the car closed behind us 
than we were slowing up to stop at the landing above, 
so rapid was our ascent of the long shaft. 


When we emerged from the little building which 
houses the upper terminus of the elevator, we found 
ourselves in the midst of a veritable fairyland of 
beauty. The combined languages of Earth men hold 
no words to convey to the mind the gorgeous beau- 
ties of the scene. 

One may speak of scarlet sward and ivory- 
stemmed trees decked with brilliant purple blooms; 
of winding walks paved with crushed rubies, with 
emerald, with turquoise, even with diamonds them- 
selves; of a magnificent temple of burnished gold 
hand-wrought with marvelous designs; but where 
are the words to describe the glorious colors that are 
unknown to earthly eyes? Where the mind or the 
imagination that can grasp the gorgeous scintilla- 
tions of unheard-of rays as they emanate from the 
thousand nameless jewels of Barsoom? 

Even my eyes, for long years accustomed to the 
barbaric splendors of a Martian Jeddak's court, 
were amazed at the glory of the scene. 

Phaidor's eyes were wide in amazement. 

"The Temple of Issus," she whispered, half to 

Xodar watched us with his grim smile, partly of 
amusement and partly malicious gloating. 

The gardens swarmed with brilliantly trapped 
black men and women. Among them moved red and 
white females serving their every want. The palaces 
of the outer world and the temples of the therns had 


been robbed of their princesses and goddesses that 
the blacks might have their slaves. 

Through this scene we moved toward the temple. 
At the main entrance we were halted by a cordon of 
armed guards. Xodar spoke a few words to an of- 
ficer who came forward to question us. Together 
they entered the temple, where they remained for 
some time. 

When they returned it was to announce that Issus 
desired to look upon the daughter of Matai Shang, 
and the strange creature from another world who 
had been a Prince of Helium. 

Slowly we moved through endless corridors of 
unthinkable beauty ; through magnificent apartments, 
and noble halls. At length we were halted in a spa- 
cious chamber in the center of the temple. One of 
the officers who had accompanied us advanced to a 
large door in the further end of the chamber. Here 
he must have made some sort of signal for immedi- 
ately the door opened and another richly trapped 
courtier emerged. 

We were then led up to the door, where we were 
directed to get down on our hands and knees with 
our backs toward the room we were to enter. The 
doors were swung open and after being cautioned 
not to turn our heads under penalty of instant death 
we were commanded to back into the presence of 

Never have I been in so humiliating a position in 


my life, and only my love for Dejah Thoris and the 
hope which still clung to me that I might again see 
her kept me from rising to face the goddess of the 
First Born and go down to my death like a gentle- 
man, facing my foes and with their blood mingling 
with mine. 

After we had crawled in this disgusting fashion 
for a matter of a couple of hundred feet we were 
halted by our escort. 

"Let them rise," said a voice behind us; a thin 
wavering voice, yet one that had evidently been 
accustomed to command for many years. 

" Rise," said our escort, " but do not face toward 

" The woman pleases me," said the thin, wavering 
voice again after a few moments of silence. " She 
shall serve me the allotted time. The man you may 
return to the Isle of Shador which lies against the 
northern shore of the Sea of Omean. Let the woman 
turn and look upon Issus, knowing that those of the 
lower orders who gaze upon the holy vision of her 
radiant face survive the blinding glory but a single 

I watched Phaidor from the corner of my eye. 
She paled to a ghastly hue. Slowly, very slowly she 
turned, as though drawn by some invisible yet ir- 
resistible force. She was standing quite close to me, 
so close that her bare arm touched mine as she 
finally faced Issus, Goddess of Life Eternal. 


I could not see the girl's face as her eyes rested 
for the first time on the Supreme Deity of Mars, but 
I felt the shudder that ran through her in the trem- 
bling flesh of the arm that touched mine. 

" It must be dazzling loveliness indeed/ 5 thought 
I, " to cause such emotion in the breast of so radiant 
a beauty as Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang." 

" Let the woman remain. Remove the man. Go." 
Thus spoke Issus, and the heavy hand of the officer 
fell upon my shoulder. In accordance with his in- 
structions I dropped to my hands and knees once 
more and crawled from the Presence. It had btQti 
my first audience with deity, but I am free to con- 
fess that I was not greatly impressed — other than 
with the ridiculous figure I cut scrambling about on 
my marrow bones. 

Once without the chamber the doors closed behind 
us and I was bid to rise. Xodar joined me and to- 
gether we slowly retraced our steps toward the 

" You spared my life when you easily might have 
taken it," he said after we had proceeded some little 
way in silence, "and I would aid you if I might. 
I can help to make your life here more bearable, but 
your fate is inevitable. You may never hope tp re- 
turn to the outer world." 

"What will be my fate?" I asked. 

"That will depend largely upon Issus. So long 
as she does not send for you and reveal her face to 


you, you may live on for years in as mild a form of 
bondage as I can arrange for you." 

" Why should she send for me ? " I asked. 

"The men of the lower orders she often uses for 
various purposes of amusement. Such a fighter as 
you, for example, would render fine sport in the 
monthly rites of the temple. There are men pitted 
against men, and against beasts for the edification 
of Issus and the replenishment of her larder." 

" She eats human flesh?" I asked. Not in horror, 
however, for since my recently acquired knowledge 
of the Holy Therns I was prepared for anything in 
this still less accessible heaven, where all was evi- 
dently dictated by a single omnipotence ; where ages 
of narrow fanaticism and self -worship had eradi- 
cated all the broader humanitarian instincts that the 
race might once have possessed. 

They were a people drunk with power and suc- 
cess, looking upon the other inhabitants of Mars 
as we look upon the beasts of the field and the forest. 
Why then should they not eat of the flesh of the 
lower orders whose lives and characters they no 
more understood than do we the inmost thoughts and 
sensibilities of the cattle we slaughter for our 
earthly tables. 

" She eats only the flesh of the best bred of the 
Holy Therns and the red Barsoomians. The flesh 
of the others goes to our boards. The animals are 
eaten by the slaves. She also eats other dainties." 


I did not understand then that there lay any 
special significance in his reference to other dainties. 
I thought the limit of ghoulishness already had been 
reached in the recitation of Issus' menu. I still 
had much to learn as to the depths of cruelty and 
bestiality to which omnipotence may drag its pos- 

We had about reached the last of the many cham- 
bers and corridors which led to the gardens when 
an officer overtook us. 

" Issus would look again upon this man/' he said. 
" The girl has told her that he is of wondrous beauty 
and of such prowess that alone he slew seven of the 
First Born and with his bare hands took Xodar cap- 
tive, binding him with his own harness." 

Xodar looked uncomfortable. Evidently he did 
not relish the thought that Issus had learned of his 
inglorious defeat. 

Without a word he turned and we followed the 
officer once again to the closed doors before the au- 
dience chamber of Issus, Goddess of Life Eternal. 

Here the ceremony of entrance was repeated. 
Again Issus bid me rise. For several minutes all was 
silent as the tomb. The eyes of deity were apprais- 
ing me. 

Presently the thin wavering voice broke the still- 
ness, repeating in a singsong drone the words which 
for countless ages had sealed the doom of number- 
less victims. 


" Let the man turn and look upon Issus, knowing 
that those of the lower orders who gaze upon the 
holy vision of her radiant face survive the blinding 
glory but a single year." 

I turned as I had been bid, expecting such a treat 
as only th^ revealment of divine glory to mortal 
eyes might produce. What I saw was a solid phalanx 
of armed men between myself and a dais supporting 
a great bench of carved sorapus wood. On this 
bench, or throne, squatted a female black. She was 
evidently very old. Not a hair remained upon her 
wrinkled skull. With the exception of two yellow 
fangs she was entirely toothless. On either side of 
her thin, hawk-like nose her eyes burned from the 
depths of horribly sunken sockets. The skin of her 
face was seamed and creased with a million deep cut 
furrows. Her body was as wrinkled as her face, and 
as repulsive. 

Emaciated arms and legs attached to a torso which 
seemed to be mostly distorted abdomen completed 
the "holy vision of her radiant beauty." 

Surrounding her were a number of female slaves, 
among them Phaidor, white and trembling. 

"This is the man who slew seven of the First 
Born and, bare-handed, bound Dator Xodar with 
his own harness ? " asked Issus. 

" Most glorious vision of divine loveliness, it is," 
replied the officer who stood at my side. 

" Produce Dator Xodar," she commanded. 


J * ' I — — » ■ ■ '■ ■«■" ■ ■ ■ ■■■ ■ ii i i n i > I ! « ■■!■ i it ■» I M il ■■ ^■M^^^M WMf 

Xodar was brought from the adjoining room. 

Issus glared at him, a baleful light in her hideous 

"And such as you are a Dator of the First 
Born ? " she squealed. " For the disgrace you have 
brought upon the Immortal Race you shall be de- 
graded to a rank below the lowest. No longer be 
you a Dator, but forevermore a slave of slaves, to 
fetch and carry for the lower orders that serve in 
the gardens of Issus. Remove his harness. Cowards 
and slaves wear no trappings." 

Xodar stood stiffly erect. Not a muscle twitched, 
nor a tremor shook his giant frame as a soldier of 
the guard roughly stripped his gorgeous trappings 
from him. 

"Begone," screamed the infuriated little old 
woman. "Begone, but instead of the light of the 
gardens of Issus let you serve as a slave of this slave 
who conquered you, in the prison on the Isle of 
Shador in the Sea of Omean. Take him away out 
of the sight of my divine eyes." 

Slowly and with high held head the proud 
Xodar turned and stalked from the chamber. 
Issus rose and turned to leave the room by another 

Turning to me, she said : " You shall be returned 
to Shador for the present. Later Issus will see the 
manner of your fighting. Go." Then she disap- 
peared, followed by her retinue. Only Phaidor lagged 


behind, and as I started to follow my guard toward 
the gardens, the girl came running after me. 

" Oh, do not leave me in this terrible place," she 
begged. "Forgive the things I said to you, my 
Prince. I did not mean them. Only take me away 
with you. Let me share your imprisonment on 
Shador." Her words were an almost incoherent 
volley of thoughts, so rapidly she spoke. "You did 
not understand the honor that I did you. Among 
the therns there is no marriage or giving in mar- 
riage, as among the lower orders of the outer world. 
We might have lived together forever in love 2nd 
happiness. We have both looked upon Issus and in 
a year we die. Let us live that year at least to- 
gether in what measure of joy remains for the 

"If it was difficult for me to understand you, 
Phaidor," I replied, "can you not understand that 
possibly it is equally difficult for you to understand 
the motives, the customs and the social laws that 
guide me ? I do not wish to hurt you, nor to seem to 
undervalue the honor which you have done me, but 
the thing you desire may not be. Regardless of the 
foolish belief of the peoples of the outer world, or 
of Holy Thern, or ebon First Born I am not dead* 
While I live my heart beats for but one woman — 1 
the incomparable Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. 
When death overtakes me my heart shall have ceased 
to beat; but what comes after that I know not. And 


in that I am as wise as Matai Shang, Master of Life 
and Death upon Barsoom; or Issus, Goddess of Life 

Phaidor stood looking at me intently for a mo- 
ment. No anger showed in her eyes this time, only 
a pathetic expression of hopeless sorrow. 

"I do not understand," she said, and turning 
walked slowly in the direction of xhe door through 
which Issus and her retinue had passed. A moment 
later she had passed from my sight. 



IN THE outer gardens to which the guard now 
escorted me, I found Xodar surrounded by a 
crowd of noble blacks. They were reviling and 
cursing him. The men slapped his face. The women 
spat upon him. 

When I appeared they turned their attentions 
toward me. 

"Ah/' cried one, " so this is the creature who over- 
came the great Xodar bare-handed. Let us see how 
it was done." 

"Let him bind Thurid," suggested a beautiful 
woman, laughing. "Thurid is a noble Dator. Let 
Thurid show the dog what it means to face a real 

" Yes, Thurid ! Thurid ! " cried a dozen voices. 

" Here he is now," exclaimed another, and turn- 
ing in the direction indicated I saw a huge black 
weighted down with resplendent ornaments and 
arms advancing with noble and gallant bearing 
toward us. 

"What now?" he cried. "What would you of 

Quickly a dozen voices explained. 



Thurid turned toward Xodar, his eyes narrowing 
to two nasty slits. 

" Calot ! " he hissed. " Ever did I think you car- 
ried the heart of a sorak in your putrid breast. Often 
have you bested me in the secret councils of Issus, 
but now in the field of war where men are truly 
gauged your scabby heart hath revealed its sores to 
all the world. Calot, I spurn you with my foot," and 
with the words he turned to kick Xodar. 

My blood was up. For minutes it had been boiling 
at the cowardly treatment they had been according 
this once powerful comrade because he had fallen 
from the favor of Issus. I had no love for Xodar, 
but I cannot stand the sight of cow r ardly injustice 
and persecution without seeing red as through a haze 
of bloody mist, and doing things on the impulse of 
the moment that I presume I never should do after 
mature deliberation. 

I was standing close beside Xodar as Thurid 
swung his foot for the cowardly kick. The degraded 
Dator stood erect and motionless as a carven image. 
He was prepared to take whatever his former com- 
rades had to offer in the way of insults and re- 
proaches, and take them in manly silence and 

But as Thurid's foot swung so did mine, and I 
caught him a painful blow upon the shin bone that 
saved Xodar from this added ignominy. 

For a moment there was tense silence, then Thurid, 


with a roar of rage sprang for my throat; just as 
Xodar had upon the deck of the cruiser. The results 
were identical. I ducked beneath his outstretched 
arms, and as he lunged past me planted a terrific 
right on the side of his jaw. 

The big fellow spun around like a top, his knees 
gave beneath him and he crumpled to the ground at 
my feet. 

The blacks gazed in astonishment, first at the 
still form of the proud Dator lying there in the ruby 
dust of the pathway, then at me as though they could 
not believe that such a thing could be. 

"You asked me to bind Thurid," I cried; "be- 
hold ! " And then I stooped beside the prostrate 
form, tore the harness from it, and bound the fellow's 
arms and legs securely. 

"As you have done to Xodar, now do you likewise 
to Thurid. Take him before Issus, bound in his own 
harness, that she may see with her own eyes that 
there be one among you now who is greater than the 
First Born. ,, 

" Who are you?" whispered the woman who had 
first suggested that I attempt to bind Thurid. 

"I am a citizen of two worlds; Captain John 
Carter of Virginia, Prince of the House of Tardos 
Mors, Jeddak of Helium. Take this man to your 
goddess, as I have said, and tell her, too, that as I 
have done to Xodar and Thurid, so also can I do to 
the mightiest of her Dators. With naked hands, with 


■■ ■ — — — i . ■ i , — — — i ■ ■ i . ■ ■ i ■ ■ ■ ■ 1 1 — i ■ ■ ■ ■ — i ■ ■ ■ — « 

long-sword or with short-sword, I challenge the 
flower of her fighting men to combat." 

"Come," said the officer who was guarding me 
back to Shador; "my orders are imperative; there 
is to be no delay. Xodar, come you also." 

There was little of disrespect in the tone that the 
man used in addressing either Xodar or myself. It 
was evident that he felt less contempt for the former 
Dator since he had witnessed the ease with which I 
disposed of the powerful Thurid. 

That his respect for me was greater than it should 
have been for a slave was quite apparent from the 
fact that during the balance of the return journey 
he walked or stood always behind me, a drawn short- 
sword in his hand. 

The return to the Sea of Omean was uneventful. 
We dropped down the awful shaft in the same car 
that had brought us to the surface. There we entered 
the submarine, taking the long dive to the tunnel 
far beneath the upper world. Then through the tun- 
nel and up again to the pool from which we had had 
our first introduction to the wonderful passageway 
from Omean to the Temple of Issus. 

From the island of the submarine we were trans- 
ported on a small cruiser to the distant Isle of 
Shador. Here we found a small stone prison and 
a guard of half a dozen blacks. There was no cere- 
mony wasted in completing our incarceration. One 
of the blacks opened the door of the prison with a 


huge key, we walked in, the door closed behind us, 
the lock grated, and with the sound there swept over 
me again that terrible feeling of hopelessness that I 
had felt in the Chamber of Mystery in the Golden 
Cliffs beneath the gardens of the Holy Therns. 

Then Tars Tarkas had been with me, but now I 
was utterly alone insofar as friendly companionship 
was concerned. I fell to wondering about the fate 
of the great Thark, and of his beautiful companion, 
the girl, Thuvia. Even should they by some miracle 
have escaped and been received and spared by a 
friendly nation, what hope had I of the succor which 
1 knew they would gladly extend if it lay in their 

They could not guess my whereabouts or my fate, 
for none on all Barsoom even dream of such a place 
as this. Nor would it have advantaged me any had 
they known the exact location of my prison, for who 
could hope to penetrate to this buried sea in the face 
of the mighty navy of the First Born? No; my 
case was hopeless. 

Well, I would make the best of it, and, rising, I 
swept aside the brooding despair that had been en- 
deavoring to claim me. With the idea of exploring 
my prison, I started to look around. 

Xodar sat, with bowed head, upon a low stone 
bench near the center of the room in which we were. 
He had not spoken since Issus had degraded him. 

The building was roofless, the walls rising to a 


height of about thirty feet. Half way up were * 
couple of small, heavily barred windows. The prison 
was divided into several rooms by partitions twenty 
feet high. There was no one in the room which we 
occupied, but two doors which led to other rooms 
were opened. I entered one of these rooms, but 
found it vacant. Thus I continued through several 
of the chambers until in the last one I found a young 
red Martian boy sleeping upon the stone bench 
which constituted the only furniture of any of the 
prison cells. 

Evidently he was the only other prisoner. As he 
slept I leaned over and looked at him. There was 
something strangely familiar about his face, and 
yet I could not place him. His features were very 
regular and, like the proportions of his graceful 
limbs and body, beautiful in the extreme. He was 
very light in color for a red man, but in other re- 
spects he seemed a typical specimen of this handsome 

I did not awaken him, for sleep in prison is such 
a priceless boon that I have seen men trans- 
formed into raging brutes when robbed by one 
of their fellow-prisoners of a few precious moments 
of it. 

Returning to my own cell, I found Xodar still 
sitting in the same position in which I had left 

"Man," I cried, "it will profit you nothing to 


mope thus. It were no disgrace to be bested by John 
Carter. You have seen that in the ease with which 
I accounted for Thurid. You knew it before when 
on the cruiser's deck you saw me slay three of your 
comrades. " 

" I would that you had dispatched me at the same 
time," he said. 

"Come, come!" I cried. "There is hope yet. 
Neither of us is dead. We are great fighters. Why 
not win to freedom ? " 

He looked at me in amazement. 
"You know not of what you speak," he replied. 
"Issus is omnipotent. Issus is omniscient. She 
hears now the words you speak. She knows the 
thoughts you think. It is sacrilege even to dream 
of breaking her commands." 

"Rot, Xodar," I ejaculated impatiently. 
He sprang to his feet in horror. 
" The curse of Issus will fall upon you," he cried. 
" In another instant you will be smitten down, writh- 
ing to your death in horrible agony." 
" Do you believe that, Xodar ? " I asked. 
" Of course ; who would dare doubt ? " 
"I doubt; yes, and further, I deny," I said. 
"Why, Xodar, you tell me that she even knows 
my thoughts. The red men have all had that power 
tor ages. And another wonderful power. They 
can shut their minds so that none may read their 
thoughts. I learned the first secret years ago; the 


other I never had to learn, since upon all Barsoom 
is none who can read what passes in the secret 
chambers of my brain. 

"Your goddess cannot read my thoughts; nor 
can she read yours when you are out of sight, unless 
you will it. Had she been able to read mine, I am 
afraid that her pride would have suffered a rather 
severe shock when I turned at her command to ' gaze 
upon the holy vision of her radiant face \" 

'What do you mean?" he whispered in an af- 
frighted voice, so low that I could scarcely hear 

" I mean that I thought her the most repulsive and 
vilely hideous creature my eyes ever had rested 


For a moment he eyed me in horror-stricken 
amazement, and then with a cry of " Blasphemer " 
he sprang upon me. 

I did not wish to strike him again, nor was it 
necessary, since he was unarmed and therefore quite 
harmless to me. 

As he came I grasped his left wrist with my left 
hand, and, swinging my right arm above his left 
shoulder, caught him beneath the chin with my 
elbow and bore him backward across my thigh. 

There he hung helpless for a moment, glaring up at 
me in impotent rage. 

" Xodar," I said, " let us be friends. For a year, 
possibly, we may be forced to live together in th* 


narrow confines of this tiny room. I am sorry to 
have offended you, but I could not dream that one 
who had suffered from the cruel injustice of Issus 
still could believe her divine. 

"I will say a few more words, Xodar, with no 
intent to wound your feelings further, but rather) 
that you may give thought to the fact that while we 
live we are still more the arbiters of our own fate 
thaa is any god. 

"Issus, you see, has not struck me dead, nor is 
she rescuing her faithful Xodar from the clutches of 
the unbeliever who defamed her fair beauty. No, 
Xodar, your Issus is a mortal old woman. Once out 
of her clutches and she cannot harm you. 

"With your knowledge of this strange land, and 
my knowledge of the outer world, two such fighting 
men as you and I should be able to win our way to 
freedom. Even though we died in the attempt, 
would not our memories be fairer than as though 
we remained in servile fear to be butchered by a 
cruel and unjust tyrant — call her goddess or mortal, 
as you will." 

As I finished I raised Xodar to his feet and re- 
leased him. He did not renew the attack upon me, 
nor did he speak. Instead, he walked toward the 
bench, and, sinking down upon it, remained lost in 
deep thought for hours. 

A long time afterward I heard a soft sound at 
the doorway leading to one of the other apartments, 


and, looking up, beheld the red Martian youth gazing 
intently at us. 

" Kaor," I cried, after the red Martian manner of 

" Kaor," he replied. " What do you here ? " 

" I await my death, I presume/' I replied with a 
wry smile. 

He too smiled, a brave and winning smile. 

"I also," he said. "Mine will come soon. 1 
looked upon the radiant beauty of Issus nearly a 
year since. It has always been a source of keen 
w r onder to me that I did not drop dead at the first 
sight of that hideous countenance. And her belly! 
By my first ancestor, but never was there so gro- 
tesque a figure in all the universe. That they should 
call such a one Goddess of Life Eternal, Goddess 
of Death, Mother of the Nearer Moon, and fifty 
other equally impossible titles, is quite beyond me." 

" How came you here ? " I asked. 

"It is very simple. I was flying a one-man air 
scout far to the south when the brilliant idea occurred 
to me that I should like to search for the Lost Sea of 
Korus which tradition places near to the south pole. 
I must have inherited from my father a wild lust for 
adventure, as well as a hollow where my bump of 
reverence should be. 

"I had reached the area of eternal ice when my 
port propeller jammed, and I dropped to the ground 
to make repairs. Before I knew it the air was black 


with fliers, and a hundred of these First Born devils 
were leaping to the ground all about me. 

" With drawn swords they made for me, but be- 
fore I went down beneath them they had tasted of 
the steel of my father's sword, and I had given such 
an account of myself as I know would have pleased 
my sire had he lived to witness it." 

" Your father is dead ? " I asked. 

"He died before the shell broke to let me step 
out into a world that has been very good to me. But 
for the sorrow that I had never the honor to know 
irry father, I have been very happy. My only sorrow 
now is that my mother must mourn me as she has 
for ten long years mourned my father. " 

" Who was your father ? " I asked. 

He was about to reply when the outer door of our 
prison opened and a burly guard entered and ordered 
him to his own quarters for the night, locking the 
door after him as he passed through into the furthef 

"It is Issus' wish that you two be confined in 
the same room," said the guard when he had returned 
to our cell. "This cowardly slave of a slave is to 
serve you well," he said to me, indicating Xodar with 
a wave of his hand. " If he does not, you are to beat 
him into submission. It is Issus' wish that you heap 
upon him every indignity and degradation of which 
you can conceive." 

With these words he left us. 


Xodar still sat with his face buried in his hands. 
I walked to his side and placed my hand upon his 

" Xodar," I said, " you have heard the commands 
of Issus, but you need not fear that I shall attempt 
to put them into execution. You are a brave man, 
Xodar. It is your own affair if you wish to be per- 
secuted and humiliated; but were I you I should 
assert my manhood and defy my enemies. " 

"I have been thinking very hard, John Carter/' 
he said, "of all the new ideas you gave me a few 
hours since. Little by little I have been piecing 
together the things that you said which sounded 
blasphemous to me then with the things that I have 
seen in my past life and dared not even think about 
for fear of bringing down upon me the wrath of 

"I believe now that she is a fraud; no more 
divine than you or I. More I am willing to concede 
i — that the First Born are no holier than the Holy 
Therns, nor the Holy Therns more holy than the 
red men. 

"The whole fabric of our religion is based on 
superstitious belief in lies that have been foisted 
upon us for ages by those directly above us, to whose 
personal profit and aggrandizement it was to have us 
continue to believe as they wished us to believe. 

" I am ready to cast off the ties that have bound 
me. I am ready to defy Issus herself ; but what will 


it avail us ? Be the First Born gods or mortals, they 
are a powerful race, and we are as fast in their 
clutches as though we were already dead There is 
no escape." 

F " I have escaped from bad plights in the past, my 
friend/' I replied; "nor while life is in me shall I 
despair of escaping from the Isle of Shador and 
the Sea of Omean." 

" But we cannot even escape from the four walls 
of our prison," urged Xodar. " Test this flint-like 
surface," he cried, smiting the solid rock that con- 
fined us. "And look upon this polished surface; 
none could cling to it to reach the top." 

I smiled. 

" That is the least of our troubles, Xodar," I re- 
plied. " I will guarantee to scale the wall and take 
you with me, if you will help with your knowledge 
of the customs here to appoint the best time for the 
attempt, and guide me to the shaft that lets from 
the dome of this abysmal sea to the light of God's 
pure air above." 

" Night time is the best and offers the only slender 
chance we have, for then men sleep, and only a 
dozing watch nods in the tops of the battleships. 
No watch is kept upon the cruisers and smaller craft. 
The watchers upon the larger vessels see to all about 
them. It is night now." 

" But," I exclaimed, " it is not dark ! How can it 
be night, then ? " 


He smiled. 

"You forget/' he said, "that we are far below 
ground. The light of the sun never penetrates here. 
There are no moons and no stars reflected in the 
bosom of Omean. The phosphorescent light you 
now see pervading this great subterranean vault 
emanates from the rocks that form its dome; it is 
always thus upon Omean, just as the billows are 
always as you see them — rolling, ever rolling over 
a windless sea. 

"At the appointed hour of night upon the world 
above, the men whose duties hold them here sleep, but 
the light is ever the same." 

" It will make escape more difficult," I said, and 
then I shrugged my shoulders; for what, pray, is 
the pleasure in doing an easy thing ? 

" Let us sleep on it tonight," said Xodar. "A plan 
may come with our awakening." 

So we threw ourselves upon the hard stone flooi 
of our prison and slept the sleep of tired men* 



EARLY the next morning Xodar and I com. 
menced work upon our plans for escape. First 
I had him sketch upon the stone floor of our cell a« 
accurate a map of the south polar regions as was 
possible with the crude instruments at our disposal — - 
a buckle from my harness, and the sharp edge of 
the wondrous gem I had taken from Sator Throg. 

From this I computed the general direction of 
Helium and the distance at which it lay from the 
opening which led to Omean. 

Then I had him draw a map of Omean, indicating 
plainly the position of Shador and of the opening in 
the dome which led to the outer world. 

These I studied until they were indelibly imprinted 
in my memory. From Xodar I learned the duties 
and customs of the guards who patrolled Shador. 
It seemed that during the hours set aside for sleep 
only one man was on duty at a time. He paced a 
beat that passed around the prison, at a distance of 
about a hundred feet from the building. 

The pace of the sentries, Xodar said, was very 
slow, requiring nearly ten minutes to make a single 
round. This meant that for practically five minutes 



at a time each side of the prison was unguarded as 
the sentry pursued his snail-like pace upon the oppo- 
site side. 

"This information you ask," said Xodar, "will 
be all very valuable after we get out, but nothing 
that you have asked has any bearing on that first and 
most important consideration." 

"We will get out all right," I replied, laughing. 
" Leave that to me." 

" When shall we make the attempt? " he asked. 

"The first night that finds a small craft moored 
near the shore of Shador," I replied. 

" But how will you know that any craft is moored 
near Shador? The windows are far beyond our 

" Not so, friend Xodar; look ! " 

With a bound I sprang to the bars of the window 
opposite us, and took a quick survey of the scene 

Several small craft and two large battleships lay 
within a hundred yards of Shador. 

" Tonight," I thought, and was just about to voice 
my decision to Xodar, when, without warning, the 
door of our prison opened and a guard stepped in. 

If the fellow saw me there our chances of escape 
might quickly go glimmering, for I knew that they 
would put me in irons if they had the slightest con- 
ception of the wonderful agility which my earthly 
muscles gave me upon Mars. 


The man had entered and was standing facing 
the center of the room, so that his back was toward 
me. Five feet above me was the top of a partition 
wall separating our cell from the next. 

There was my only chance to escape detection. 
If the fellow turned, I was lost; nor could I have 
dropped to the floor undetected, since he was so 
nearly below me that I would have struck him had I 
done so. 

"Where is the white man?" cried the guard of 
Xodar. " Issus commands his presence." He started 
to turn to see if I were in another part of the cell. 

I scrambled up the iron grating of the window 
until I could catch a good footing on the sill with 
one foot ; then I let go my hold and sprang for the 
partition top. 

"What was that?" I heard the deep voice of the 
black bellow as my metal grated against the stone 
wall as I slipped over. Then I dropped lightly to 
the floor of the cell beyond. 

"Where is the white slave?" again cried the 

"I know not," replied Xodar. "He was here 
even as you entered. I am not his keeper — go find 

The black grumbled something that I could not 
understand, and then I heard him unlocking the door 
into one of the other cells on the further side. Listen- 
ing intently, I caught the sound as the door closed 


behind him. Then I sprang once more to the top 
of the partition and dropped into my own cell beside 
the astonished Xodar. 

"Do you see now how we will escape ?" I asked 
him in a whisper. 

" I see how you may," he replied, " but I am no 
wiser than before as to how I am to pass these walls. 
Certain it is that I cannot bounce over them as you 

We heard the guard moving about from cell to 
cell, and finally, his rounds completed, he again 
entered ours. When his eyes fell upon me they 
fairly bulged from his head. 

"By the shell of my first ancestor!" he roared. 
"' Where have you been ? " 

"I have been in prison since you put me here 
yesterday," I answered. " I was in this room when 
you entered. You had better look to your eye- 

He glared at me in mingled rage and relief. 

" Come," he said. " Issus commands your pres- 

He conducted me outside the prison, leaving 
Xodar behind. There we found several other 
guards, and with them was the red Martian youth 
who occupied another cell upon Shador. 

The journey I had taken to the Temple of Issus 
on the preceding day was repeated. The guards 
kept the red boy and myself separated, so that we 


had no opportunity to continue the conversation that 
had been interrupted the previous night. 

The youth's face had haunted me. Where had I 
seen him before. There was something strangely 
familiar in every line of him; in his carriage, his 
manner of speaking, his gestures. I could have 
sworn that I knew him, and yet I knew too that I 
had never seen him before. 

When we reached the gardens of Issus we were 
led away from the temple instead of toward it. The 
way wound through enchanted parks to a mighty 
wall that towered a hundred feet in air. 

Massive gates gave egress upon a small plain, sur- 
rounded by the same gorgeous forests that I had 
seen at the foot of the Golden Cliffs. 

Crowds of blacks were strolling in the same direc- 
tion that our guards were leading us, and with them 
mingled my old friends the plant men and great 
white apes. 

The brutal beasts moved among the crowd as pet 
dogs might. If they were in the way the blacks 
pushed them roughly to one side, or whacked them 
with the flat of a sword, and the animals slunk 
away as in great fear. 

Presently we came upon our destination, as 
great amphitheater situated at the further edge of 
the plain, and about half a mile beyond the garden 

Through a massive arched gateway the blacks 


poured in to take their seats, while our guards led 
us to a smaller entrance near one end of the struc- 

Through this we passed into an enclosure beneath 
the seats, where we found a number of other prison- 
ers herded together under guard. Some of them 
were m irons, but for the most part they seemed 
sufficiently awed by the presence of their guards to 
preclude any possibility of attempted escape. 

During the trip from Shador I had had no oppor- 
tunity to talk with my fellow-prisoner, but now that 
we were safely within the barred paddock our guards 
abated their watchfulness, with the result that I 
found myself able to approach the red Martian youth 
for whom I felt such a strange attraction. 

"What is the object of this assembly?" I asked 
him. "Are we to fight for the edification of the 
First Born, or is it something worse than that ? " 

"It is a part of the monthly rites of Issus," he 
replied, "in which black men wash the sins from 
their souls in the blood of men from the outer world. 
If, perchance, the black is killed, it is evidence of his 
disloyalty to Issus — the unpardonable sin. If he 
lives through the contest he is held acquitted of the 
charge that forced the sentence of the rites, as it is 
called, upon him. 

"The forms of combat vary. A number of us 
may be pitted together against an equal number, or 
twice the number of blacks; or singly we may be 

sent forth to face wild beasts, or some famous black 


"And if we are victorious," I asked, "what then — 
freedom ? " 

He laughed. 

"Freedom, forsooth. The only freedom for us 
is death. None who enters the domains of the First 
Born ever leave. If we prove able fighters we are 
permitted to fight often. If we are not mighty 

fighters " He shrugged his shoulders. " Sooner 

or later we die in the arena." 

"And you have fought often?" I asked. 

"Very often," he rznlied. "It is my only pleas- 
ure. Some hundred black devils have I accounted 
for during nearly a year of the rites of Issus. My 
mother would be very proud could she only know 
how well I have maintained the traditions of my 
father's prowess." 

" Your father must have been a mighty warrior! " 
I said. " I have known most of the warriors of Bar- 
soom in my time; doubtless I knew him. Who 
was he?" 

"My father was " 

" Come, calots ! " cried the rough voice of a guard. 
" To the slaughter with you," and roughly we were 
hustled to the steep incline that led to the chambers 
far below which let out upon the arena. 

The amphitheater, like all I had ever seen upon 
Earsoom, was built in a large excavation. Only the 


highest seats, which formed the low wall surround- 
ing the pit, were above the level of the ground. The 
arena itself was far below the surface. 

Just beneath the lowest tier of seats was a series 
of barred cages on a level with the surface of the 
arena. Into these we were herded. But, unfortu- 
nately, my youthful friend was not of those who 
occupied a cage with me. 

Directly opposite my cage was the throne of Issus. 
Here the horrid creature squatted, surrounded by 
a hundred slave maidens sparkling in jeweled trap- 
pings. Brilliant cloths of many hues and strange 
patterns formed the soft cushion covering of the 
dais upon which they reclined about her. 

On four sides of the throne and several feet below 
it stood three solid ranks of heavily armed soldiery, 
elbow to elbow. In front of these were the high 
dignitaries of this mock heaven — gleaming blacks 
bedecked with precious stones, upon their fore- 
heads the insignia of their rank set in circlets of 

On both sides of the throne stretched a solid mass 
of humanity from top to bottom of the amphitheater. 
There were as many women as men, and each was 
clothed in the wondrously wrought harness of his 
station and his house. With each black was from 
one to three slaves, drawn from the domains of the 
therns and from the outer world. The blacks are 
all " noble." There is no peasantry among the Fixsi 


Born. Even the lowest soldier is a god, and has his 
slaves to wait upon him. 

The First Born do no work. The men fight — 
that is a sacred privilege and duty ; to fight and die 
for Issus. The women do nothing, absolutely noth- 
ing. Slaves wash them, slaves dress them, slaves feed 
them. There are some, even, who have slaves that 
talk for them, and I saw one who sat during the 
rites with closed eyes while a slave narrated to 
her the events that were transpiring within the 

The first event of the day was the Tribute to Issus. 
it marked the end of those poor unfortunates who 
had looked upon the divine glory of the goddess a 
full year before. There were ten of them — splen- 
did beauties from the proud courts of mighty Jed- 
daks and from the temples of the Holy Therns. 
For a year they had served in the retinue of Issus; 
today they were to pay the price of this divine prefer- 
ment with their lives; tomorrow they would grace 
the tables of the court functionaries. 

A' huge black entered the arena with the young 
women. Carefully he inspected them, felt of their 
limbs and poked them in the ribs. Presently ne 
selected one of their number whom he led before 
the throne of Issus. He addressed some words to 
the goddess which I could not hear. Issus nodded 
her head. The black raised his hands above his head 
m token of salute, grasped the girl by the wrist, and 



dragged her from the arena through a small door- 
way below the throne. 

"Issus will dine well tonight," said a prisoner 
beside me. 

What do you mean? " I asked. 
That was her dinner that old Thabis is taking 
to the kitchens. Didst not note how carefully he 
selected the plumpest and tenderest of the lot?" 

I growled out my curses on the monster sitting 
opposite us on the gorgeous throne. 

"Fume not," admonished my companion; "you 
will see far worse than that if you live even a month 
among the First Born." 

I turned again in time to see the gate of a nearby 
cage thrown open and three monstrous white apes 
spring into the arena. The girls shrank in a fright- 
ened group in the center of the enclosure. 

One was on her knees with imploring hands out- 
stretched toward Issus; but the hideous deity only 
leaned further forward in keener anticipation of the 
entertainment to come. At length the apes spied 
the huddled knot of terror-stricken maidens and, 
with demoniacal shrieks of bestial frenzy, charged 
upon them. 

At wave of mad fury surged over me. The cruel 
cowardliness of the power-drunk creature whose 
malignant mind conceived such frightful forms of 
torture stirred to their uttermost depths my re- 
sentment and my manhood. The blood-red haze 


that presaged death to my foes swam before my 

The guard lolled before the unbarred gate of the 
page which confined me. What need of bars, indeed, 
to keep these poor victims from rushing into the 
arena which the edict of the gods had appointed as 
their death place ! 

A 1 single blow sent the black unconscious to the 
ground. Snatching up his long-sword, I sprang into 
the arena. The apes were almost upon the maidens, 
but a couple of mighty bounds were all my earthly 
muscles required to carry me to the center of the 
sand-strewn floor. 

For an instant silence reigned in the great amphi- 
theater, then a wild shout arose from the cages 
&f the doomed. My long-sword circled whirring 
through the air, and a great ape sprawled, headless, 
at the feet of the fainting girls. 

The other apes turned now upon me, and as I 
stood facinr them a sullen roar from the audience 
answered the wild cheers from the cages. From the 
tail of my eye I saw a score of guards rushing 
across the glistening sand toward me. Then a figure 
broke from one of the cages behind them. It was 
the youth whose personality so fascinated me. 

He paused a moment before the cages, with up- 
raised sword. 

"Come, men of the outer world!" he shouted. 
"Let us make our deaths worth while, and at the 


back of this unknown warrior turn this day's Tribute 
to Issus into an orgy of revenge that will echo 
through the ages and cause black skins to blanch at 
each repetition of the rites of Issus. Come! The 
racks without your cages are filled with blades." 

Without waiting to note the outcome of his plea, 
he turned and bounded toward me. From every 
cage that harbored red men a thunderous shout went 
up in answer to his exhortation. The inner guards 
went down beneath howling mobs, and the cages 
vomited forth their inmates hot with the lust to kill. 

The racks that stood without were stripped of the 
swords with which the prisoners were to have been 
armed to enter their allotted combats, and a swarm 
of determined warriors sped to our support. 

The great apes, towering in all their fifteen feet 
of height, had gone down before my sword while 
the charging guards were still some distance away. 
Close behind them pursued the youth. At my back 
were the young girls, and as it was in their service 
that I fought, I remained standing there to meet 
my inevitable death, but with the determination to 
give such an account of myself as would long be 
remembered in the land of the First Born. 

I noted the marvelous speed of the young red man 
as he raced after the guards. Never had I seen such 
speed in any Martian. His leaps and bounds w r ere 
little short of those which my earthly muscles had 
produced to create such awe and respect on the part 


of the green Martians into whose hands I had fallen 
on that long-gone day that had seen my first advent 
upon Mars. 

The guards had not reached me when he fell upon 
them from the rear, and as they turned, thinking 
from the fierceness of his onslaught that a dozen 
were attacking them, I rushed them from my side. 

In the rapid fighting that followed I had little 
chance to note aught else than the movements of 
my immediate adversaries, but now and again I 
caught a fleeting glimpse of a purring sword and a 
lightly springing figure of sinewy steel that filled my 
heart with a strange yearning and a mighty but 
unaccountable pride. 

On the handsome face of the boy a grim smile 
played, and ever and anon he threw a taunting chal- 
lenge to the foes that faced him. In this and other 
ways his manner of fighting was similar to that 
which had always marked me on the field of combat. 

Perhaps it was this vague likeness which made 
me love the boy, while the awful havoc that his 
sword played amongst the blacks filled my soul with 
a tremendous respect for him. 

] For my part, I was fighting as I had fought a 
thousand times before — now sidestepping a wicked 
thrust, now stepping quickly in to let my sword's 
point drink deep in a foeman's heart, before it buried 
itself in the throat of his companion. 

We were having a merry time of it, we two, when 


a great body of Issus' own guards were ordered into 
the arena. On they came with fierce cries, while 
from every side the armed prisoners swarmed upon 

For half an hour it was as though all hell had 
broken loose. In the walled confines of the arena 
we fought in an inextricable mass — howling, curs- 
ing, blood-streaked demons; and ever the sword of 
the young red man flashed beside me. 

Slowly and by repeated commands I had succeeded 
in drawing the prisoners into a rough formation 
about us, so that at last we fought formed into a 
rude circle in the center of which were the doomed 

Many had gone down on both sides, but by far 
the greater havoc had been wrought in the ranks 
of the guards of Issus. I could see messengers run- 
ning swiftly through the audience, and as they passed 
the nobles there unsheathed their swords and sprang 
into the arena. They were going to annihilate us by 
force of numbers — that was quite evidently their 

I caught a glimpse of Issus leaning far forward 
tipon her throne, her hideous countenance distorted 
in a horrid, grimace of hate and rage, in which I 
thought I could distinguish an expression of fear. 
It was that face that inspired me to the thing that 

Quickly I ordered fifty of the prisoners to drop 


back behind us and form a new circle about the 

"Remain and protect them until I return," I 

Then, turning to those who formed the outer line, 
I cried, "Down with Issus! Follow me to the 
throne ; we will reap vengeance where vengeance is 
deserved. " 

The youth at my side was the first to take up the 
cry of "Down with Issus!" and then at my back 
and from all sides rose a hoarse shout, "To the 
throne ! To the throne ! " 

As one man we moved, an irresistible fighting 
mass, over the bodies of dead and dying foes toward 
the gorgeous throne of the Martian deity. Hordes 
of the doughtiest fighting men of the First Born 
poured from the audience to check our progress. We 
mowed them down before us as they had been paper 

"To the seats, some of you!" I cried as we 
approached the arena's barrier wall. "Ten of us 
can take the throne," for I had seen that Issus' 
guards had for the most part entered the fray within 
the arena. 

On both sides of me the prisoners broke to left 
and right for the seats, vaulting the low wall with 
dripping swords lusting for the crowded victims who 
awaited them. 

In another moment the entire amphitheater was 


filled with the shrieks of the dying and the wounded, 
mingled with the clash of arms and the triumphant 
shouts of the victors. 

Side by side the young red man and I, with per- 
haps a dozen others, fought our way to the foot of 
the throne. The remaining guards, reinforced by 
the high dignitaries and nobles of the First Born, 
closed in between us and Issus, who sat leaning far 
f orw r ard upon her carved sorapus bench, now scream- 
ing high-pitched commands to her following, now 
hurling blighting curses upon those who sought to 
desecrate her godhood. 

The frightened slaves about her trembled in wide- 
eyed expectancy, knowing not whether to pray for 
our victory or our defeat. Several among them, 
proud daughters no doubt of some of Barsoom's 
noblest warriors, snatched swords from the hands 
of the fallen and fell upon the guards of Issus, but 
they were soon cut down; glorious martyrs to a 
hopeless cause. 

The men with us fought well, but never since Tars 
Tarkas and I fought out that long, hot afternoon 
shoulder to shoulder against the hordes of Warhoon 
in the dead sea bottom before Thark, had I seen 
two men fight to such good purpose and with such 
unconquerable ferocity as the young red man and I 
fought that day before the throne of Issus, Goddess 
of Death, and of Life Eternal. 

Man by man those who stood between us and the 


carven sorapus wood bench went down before our 
blades. Others swarmed in to fill the breach, but 
inch by inch, foot by foot we won nearer and nearer 
to our goal. 

Presently a cry went up from a section of the 
stands nearby — "Rise slaves!" "Rise slaves!" it 
rose and fell until it swelled to a mighty volume 
of sound that swept in great billows around the 
entire amphitheater. 

For an instant, as though by common assent, we 
ceased our fighting to look for the meaning of this 
new note, nor did it take but a moment to translate 
its significance. In all parts of the structure the 
female slaves were falling upon their masters with 
whatever weapon came first to hand. A dagger 
snatched from the harness of her mistress was waved 
aloft by some fair slave, its shimmering blade crim- 
son with the lifeblood of its owner; swords plucked 
from the bodies of the dead about them ; heavy orna- 
ments which could be turned into bludgeons — such 
were the implements with which these fair women 
wreaked the long-pent vengeance which at best 
could but partially recompense them for the unspeak- 
able cruelties and indignities which their black mas- 
ters had heaped upon them. And those who could 
find no other weapons used their strong fingers and 
their gleaming teeth. 

It was at once a sight to make one shudder and 
to cheer ; but in a brief second we were engaged once 


more in our own battle, with only the unquenchable 
battle-cry of the women to remind us that they still 
fought — "Rise slaves !" "Rise slaves!" 

Only a single thin rank of men now stood be- 
tween us and Issus. Her face was blue with terror. 
Foam flecked her lips. She seemed too paralyzed 
with fear to move. Only the youth and I fought 
now. The others all had fallen, and I was like to 
have gone down too from a nasty long-sword cut 
had not a hand reached out from behind my adver- 
sary and clutched his elbow as the blade was falling 
upon me. The youth sprang to my side and ran his 
sword through the fellow before he could recover 
to deliver another blow. 

I should have died even then but for that as my 
sword was tight wedged in the breastbone of a 
Dator of the First Born. As the fellow went down 
I snatched his sword from him and over his pros- 
trate body looked into the eyes of the one whose 
quick hand had saved me from the first cut of his 
sword — it was Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang. 

"Fly! My Prince," she cried. "It is useless to 
fight them longer. All within the arena are dead. 
All who charged the throne are dead but you and 
this youth. Only among the seats are there left any 
of your fighting men, and they and the slave women 
are fast being cut down. Listen! You can scarce 
hear the battle-cry of the women now for nearly all 
are dead. For each one of you there are ten thousand 


blacks within the domains of the First Born. Break 
for the open and the Sea of Korus. With your 
mighty sword arm you may yet win to the Golden 
Cliffs and the templed gardens of the Holy Therns. 
There tell your story to Matai Shang, my father. 
He will keep you, and together you may find a way 
to rescue me. Fly while there is yet a bare chance 
for flight." 

But that was not my mission, nor could I see 
much to be preferred in the cruel hospitality of the 
Holy Therns to that of the First Born. 

" Down with Issus ! " I shouted, and together the 
boy and I took up the fight once more. Two blacks 
went down with our swords in their vitals, and we 
stood face to face with Issus. As my sword went up 
to end her horrid career her paralysis left her, and 
with an ear-piercing shriek she turned to flee. Directly 
behind her a black gulf suddenly yawned in the 
flooring of the dais. She sprang for the opening with 
the youth and I close at her heels. Her scattered 
guard rallied at her cry and rushed for us. A blow 
fell upon the head of the youth. He staggered and 
would have fallen, but I caught him in my left arm 
and turned alone to face an infuriated mob of re- 
ligious fanatics crazed by the affront I had put upon 
their goddess, just as Issus disappeared into the 
black depths beneath me. 



FOR an instant I stood there before they fell 
upon me, but the first rush of them forced me 
back a step or two. My foot felt for the floor but 
found only empty space. I had backed into the 
pit which had received Issus. For a second I top- 
pled there upon the brink. Then I too with the 
boy still tightly clutched in my arms pitched back- 
ward into the black abyss. 

We struck a polished chute, the opening above 
us closed as magically as it had opened, and we shot 
down, unharmed, into a dimly lighted apartment far 
below the arena. 

As I rose to my feet the first thing I saw was 
the malignant countenance of Issus glaring at me 
through the heavy bars of a grated door at one side 
of the chamber. 

" Rash mortal ! " she shrilled. " You shall pay the 
awful penalty for your blasphemy in this secret cell. 
Here you shall lie alone and in darkness with the 
carcass of your accomplice festering in its rotten- 
ness by your side, until crazed by loneliness and 
hunger you feed upon the crawling maggots that 

were once a man." 



That was all. In another instant she was gone, and 
the dim light which had filled the cell faded into 
Cimmerian blackness. 

" Pleasant old lady," said a voice at my side. 

"Who speaks?" I asked. 

" 'Tis I, your companion, who has had the honor 
this day of fighting shoulder to shoulder with the 
greatest warrior that ever wore metal upon Bar- 

" I thank God that you are not dead," I said. " I 
feared for that nasty cut upon your head." 

"It but stunned me," he replied. "A mere 

" Maybe it were as well had it been final," I said. 
" We seem to be in a pretty fix here with a splendid 
chance of dying of starvation and thirst." 

"Where are we?" 

"Beneath the arena," I replied. "We tumbled 
down the shaft that swallowed Issus as she was al- 
most at our mercy." 

He laughed a low laugh of pleasure and relief, 
and then reaching out through the inky blackness 
he sought my shoulder and pulled my ear close to 
his mouth. 

" Nothing could be better," he whispered. " There 
are secrets within the secrets of Issus of which Issus 
herself does not dream." 

" What do you mean ? " 

"I labored with the other slaves a year sine* in 


the remodeling of these subterranean galleries, and 
at that time we found below these an ancient system 
of corridors and chambers that had been sealed up 
for ages. The blacks in charge of the work explored 
them, taking several of us along to do whatever 
work there might be occasion for. I know the en- 
tire system perfectly. 

"There are miles of corridors honeycombing the 
ground beneath the gardens and the temple itself, 
and there is one passage that leads down to and con- 
nects with the lower regions that open on the water 
shaft that gives passage to Omean. 

"If we can reach the submarine undetected we 
may yet make the sea in which there are many is- 
lands where the blacks never go. There we may 
live for a time, and who knows what may transpire 
to aid us to escape ? " 

He had spoken all in a low whisper, evidently 
fearing spying ears even here, and so I answered 
him in the same subdued tone. 

" Lead back to Shador, my friend," I whispered. 
" Xodar, the black, is there. We were to attempt our 
escape together, so I cannot desert him." 

" No," said the boy, " one cannot desert a friend. 
It were better to be recaptured ourselves than that." 

Then he commenced groping his way about the 
floor of the dark chamber searching for the trap that 
led to the corridors beneath. At length he summoned 
me by a low, " S-s-t," and I crept toward the sound 


of his voice to find him kneeling on the brink of an 
opening in the floor. 

" There is a drop here of about ten feet," he whis- 
pered. "Hang by your hands and you will alight 
safely on a level floor of soft sand." 

Very quietly I lowered myself from the inky cell: 
above into the inky pit below. So utterly dark was 
it that we could not see our hands at an inch from 
our noses. Never, I think, have I known such com- 
plete absence of light as existed in the pits of Issus. 

For an instant I hung in mid air. There is a 
strange sensation connected with an experience of 
that nature which is quite difficult to describe. When 
the feet tread empty air and the distance below is 
shrouded in darkness there is a feeling akin to panic 
at the thought of releasing the hold and taking the 
plunge into unknown depths. 

Although the boy had told me that it was but ten 
feet to the floor below I experienced the same thrills 
as though I were hanging above a bottomless pit. 
Then I released my hold and dropped — four feet 
to a soft cushion of sand. 

The boy followed me. 

" Raise me to your shoulders," he said, " and I 
will replace the trap." 

This done he took me by the hand, leading me 
very slowly, with much feeling about and frequent 
halts to assure himself that he did not stray into 
wrong passageways. 


Presently we commenced the descent of a very 
steep incline. 

" It will not be long," he said, " before we shall 
have light. At the lower levels we meet the same 
strata of phosphorescent rock that illuminates 
Omean. ,, 

Never shall I forget that trip through the pits of 
Issus. While it was devoid of important incidents 
yet it was filled for me with a strange charm of ex- 
citement and adventure which I think must have 
hinged principally on the unguessable antiquity of 
these long-forgotten corridors. The things which the 
Stygian darkness hid from my objective eye could 
not have been half so wonderful as the pictures 
which my imagination wrought as it conjured to life 
again the ancient peoples of this dying world and 
set them once more to the labors, the intrigues, the 
mysteries and the cruelties which they had practiced 
to make their last stand against the swarming hordes 
of the dead sea bottoms that had driven them step 
by step to the uttermost pinnacle of the world where 
they were now intrenched behind an impenetrable 
barrier of superstition. 

In addition to the green men there had been three 
principal races upon Barsoom. The blacks, the 
whites, and a race of yellow men. As the waters 
of the planet dried and the seas receded, all other 
resources dwindled until life upon the planet became 
a constant battle for survival. 



The various races had made war upon one an- 
other for ages, and the three higher types had easily 
bested the green savages of the waste places of the 
world, but now that the receding seas necessitated 
constant abandonment of their fortified cities and 
forced upon them a more or less nomadic life in 
which they became separated into smaller commun-' 
ities they soon fell prey to the fierce hordes of green 
men. The result was a partial amalgamation of the 
blacks, whites and yellows, the result of which is 
shown in the present splendid race of red men. 

I had always supposed that all traces of the orig- 
inal races had disappeared from the face of Mars, 
yet within the past four days I had found both 
whites and blacks in great multitudes. Could it be 
possible that in some far-off corner of the planet 
there still existed a remnant of the ancient race of 
yellow men? 

My reveries were broken in upon by a low ex~ 
clamation from the boy. 

"At last, the lighted way," he cried, and looking 
up I beheld at a long distance before us a dim 

As we advanced the light increased until pres^ 
ently we emerged into well-lighted passageways. 
From then on our progress was rapid until we came 
suddenly to the end of a corridor that let directly 
upon the ledge surrounding the pool of the sub- 


The craft lay at her moorings with uncovered 
hatch. Raising his finger to his lips and then tap- 
ping his sword in a significant manner, the youth 
crept noiselessly toward the vessel. I was close at 
his heels. 

Silently we dropped to the deserted deck, and on 
hands and knees crawled toward the hatchway. A 
stealthy glance below revealed no guard in sight, and 
so with the quickness and the soundlessness of cats 
we dropped together into the main cabin of the sub- 
marine. Even here was no sign of life. Quickly we 
covered and secured the hatch. 

Then the boy stepped into the pilot house, touched 
a button and the boat sank amid swirling waters 
toward the bottom of the shaft. Even then there 
was no scurrying of feet as we had expected, and 
while the boy remained to direct the boat I slid from 
cabin to cabin in futile search for some member of 
the crew. The craft was entirely deserted. Such good 
fortune seemed almost unbelieveable. 

When I returned to the pilot house to report the 
good news to my companion he handed me a paper. 

"This may explain the absence of the crew," he 

It was a radio-aerial message to the commander 
of the submarine : 

" The slaves have risen. Come with what men you 
have and those that you can gather on the way. Too 


late to get aid from Omean. They are massacring 
all within the amphitheater. Issus is threatened. 


"Zithad is Dator of the guards of Issus/' ex- 
plained the youth. "We gave them a bad scare — 
one that they will not soon forget." 

"Let us hope that it is but the beginning of the 
end of Issus," I said. 

" Only our first ancestor knows," he replied. 

We reached the submarine pool in Omean without 
incident. Here we debated the wisdom of sinking 
the craft before leaving her, but finally decided that 
it would add nothing to our chances for escape. 
There were plenty of blacks on Omean to thwart 
us were we apprehended ; however many more might 
come from the temples and gardens of Issus would 
not in any way decrease our chances. 

We were now in a quandary as to how to pass 
the guards who patrolled the island about the pool. 
r At last I hit upon a plan. 

" What is the name or title of the officer in charge 
of these guards ? " I asked the boy. 

"A fellow named Torith was on duty when we 
entered this morning," he replied. 

"Good. And what is the name of the commander 
of the submarine?" 



I found a dispatch blank in the cabin and wrote 
the following order: 

" Dator Torith : Return these two slaves at once 
to Shador. Yersted." 

" That will be the simpler way to return," I said, 
smiling, as I handed the forged order to the boy. 
" Come, we shall see now how well it works." 

"But our swords !" he exclaimed. "What shall 
we say to explain them?' , 

" Since we cannot explain them we shall have to 
leave them behind us," I replied. 

" Is it not the extreme of rashness to thus put our- 
selves again, unarmed, in the power of the First 

" It is the only way," I answered. " You may trust 
me to find a way out of the prison of Shador, and I 
think, once out, that we shall find no great difficulty 
in arming ourselves once more in a country which 
abounds so plentifully in armed men." 

"As you say," he replied with a smile and shrug. 
"I could not follow another leader who inspired 
greater confidence than you. Come, let us put your 
ruse to the test." 

Boldly we emerged from the hatchway of the 
craft, leaving our swords behind us, and strode to 
the main exit which led to the sentry's post and the 
office of the Dator of the guard. 

At sight of us the members of the guard sprang 


forward in surprise, and with leveled rifles halted 
us. I held out the message to one of them. He took 
it and seeing to whom it was addressed turned and 
handed it to Torith who was emerging from his of- 
fice to learn the cause of the commotion. 

The black read the order, and for a moment eyed 
us with evident suspicion. 

"Where is Dator Yersted?" he asked, and my 
heart sank within me, as I cursed myself for a stupid 
fool in not having sunk the submarine to make good 
the lie that I must tell. 

"His orders were to return immediately to the 
temple landing," I replied. 

Torith took a half step toward the entrance to the 
pool as though to corroborate my story. For that 
instant everything hung in the balance for had he 
done so and found the empty submarine still lying 
at her wharf the whole weak fabric of my concoc- 
tion would have tumbled about our heads; but evi- 
dently he decided that the message must be genuine, 
nor indeed was there any good reason to doubt it 
since it would scarce have seemed credible to him 
that two slaves would voluntarily have given them- 
selves into custody in any such manner as this. It 
was the very boldness of the plan which rendered 
it successful. 

"Were you connected with the rising of the 
slaves ? " asked Torith. " We have just had meager 
reports of some such event." 


"All were involved," I replied. " But it amounted 
tc little. The guards quickly overcame and killed 
the majority of us." 

He seemed satisfied with this reply. " Take them 
to Shador," he ordered, turning to one of his subor- 
dinates. We entered a small boat lying beside the 
island, and in a few minutes were disembarking 
upon Shador. Here we were returned to our re- 
spective cells ; I with Xodar, the boy by himself ; and 
behind locked doors we were again prisoners of 
the First Bora. 



XODAR listened in incredulous astonishment to 
my narration of the events which had trans- 
pired within the arena at the rites of Issus. He 
could scarce conceive, even though he had already 
professed his doubt as to the deity of Issus, that one 
could threaten her with sword in hand and not be 
blasted into a thousand fragments by the mere fury 
of her divine wrath. 

" It is the final proof," he said, at last. " No more 
is needed to completely shatter the last remnant of 
my superstitious belief in the divinity of Issus. She 
is only a wicked old woman, wielding a mighty 
power for evil through machinations that have kept 
her own people and all Barsoom in religious ignor- 
ance for ages." 

"She is still all-powerful here, however," I re- 
plied. " So it behooves us to leave at the first moment 
/that appears at all propitious." 

" I hope that you may find a propitious moment,' 9 
he said, with a laugh, " for it is certain that in all my 
life I have never seen one in which a prisoner of the 
First Born might escape." 

" Tonight will do as well as any," I replied. 



" It will soon be night," said Xodar. " How may 
I aid in the adventure ? " 

** Can you swim ? " I asked him. 

" No slimy silian that haunts the depths of Korus 
is more at home in water than is Xodar," he replied. 

"Good. The red one in all probability cannot 
swim," I said, "since there is scarce enough water 
in all their domains to float the tiniest craft. One of 
us therefore will have to support him through the 
sea to the craft we select. I had hoped that we might 
make the entire distance belo^ the surface, but I 
fear that the red youth could not thus perform the 
trip. Even the bravest of the brave among them 
are terrorized at the mere thought of deep water, 
for it has been ages since their forebears saw a lake, 
a river, or a sea. 

" The red one is to accompany us ? " asked Xodar. 


"It is well. Three swords are better than two. 
Especially when the third is as mighty as this fel- 
low's. I have seen him battle in the arena at the 
rites of Issus many times. Never, until I saw you 
fight, had I seen one who seemed unconquerable 
even in the face of great odds. One might think you 
two master and pupil, or father and son. Come to 
recall his face there is a resemblance between you. 
It is very marked when you fight — there is the same 
grim smile, the same maddening contempt for your 
adversary apparent in every movement of your 


bodies and in every changing expression of your 
faces. " 

" Be that as it may, Xodar, he is a great fighter. 
I think that we will make a trio difficult to over- 
come, and if my friend Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of 
Thark, were but one of us we could fight our way 
from one end of Barsoom to the other even though 
the whole world were pitted against us." 

" It will be," said Xodar, " when they find from 
whence you have come. That is but one of the super- 
stitions which Issus has foisted upon a credulous 
humanity. She works through the Holy Therns who 
are as ignorant of her real self as are the Barsoom- 
ians of the outer world. Her decrees are borne to 
the therns written in blood upon a strange parch- 
ment. The poor deluded fools think that they are re- 
ceiving the revelations of a goddess through some 
supernatural agency, since they find these messages 
upon their guarded altars to which none could have 
access without detection. I myself have borne these 
messages for Issus for many years. There is a long 
tunnel from the temple of Issus to the principal tem- 
ple of Matai Shang. It was dug ages ago by the 
slaves of the First Born in such utter secrecy that 
no thern ever guessed its existence. 

"The therns for their part have temples dotted 
about the entire civilized world. Here priests whom 
the people never see communicate the doctrine of the 
Mysterious River Iss, the Valley Dor, and the Lost 


Sea of Korus to persuade the poor deluded creatures 
to take the voluntary pilgrimage that swells the 
wealth of the Holy Therns and adds to the numbers 
of their slaves. 

" Thus the therns are used as the principal means 
(for collecting the wealth and labor that the First 
Born wrest from them as they need it. Occasionally 
the First Born themselves make raids upon the outer 
world. It is then that they capture many females of 
the royal houses of the red men, and take the newest 
in battleships and the trained artisans who build 
them, that they may copy what they cannot create. 

" We are a non-productive race, priding ourselves 
upon our non-productiveness. It is criminal for a 
First Born to labor or invent. That is the work of 
the lower orders, who live merely that the First Born 
may enjoy long lives of luxury and idleness. With 
tis fighting is all that counts; were it not for that 
there would be more of the First Born than all the 
creatures of Barsoom could support, for insofar as 
1 know none of us ever dies a natural death. Our 
females would live forever but for the fact that we 
tire of them and remove them to make place for 
others. Issus alone of all is protected against death. 
She has lived for countless ages." 

"Would not the other Barsoomians live forever 
but for the doctrine of the voluntary pilgrimage 
;which drags them to the bosom of Iss at or before 
their thousandth year ? " I asked him. 


" I feel now that there is no doubt but that they 
are precisely the same species of creature as the 
First Born, and I hope that I shall live to fight for 
them in atonement of the sins I have committed 
against them through the ignorance born of gener- 
ations of false teaching." 

As he ceased speaking a wierd call rang out across 
the waters of Omean. I had heard it at the same 
time the previous evening and knew that it marked 
the ending of the day, when the men of Omean 
spread their silks upon the deck of battleship and 
cruiser and fall into the dreamless sleep of Mars. 

Our guard entered to inspect us for the last time 
before the new day broke upon the world above. His 
duty was soon performed and the heavy door of our 
prison closed behind him — we were alone for the 

I gave him time to return to his quarters, as Xodar 
said he probably would do, then I sprang to the 
grated window and surveyed the nearby waters. At 
a little distance from the island, a quarter of a mile 
perhaps, lay a monster battleship, while between her 
and the shore were a number of smaller cruisers and 
one-man scouts. Upon the battleship alone was 
there a watch. I could see him plainly in the upper 
works of the ship, and as I watched I saw him 
spread his sleeping silks upon the tiny platform in 
which he was stationed. Soon he threw himself at 
full length upon his couch. The discipline on Omean 


was lax indeed. But it is not to be wondered at 
since no enemy guessed the existence upon Barsoom 
of such a fleet, or even of the First Born, or the Sea 
of Omean. Why indeed should they maintain a 
watch ? 

Presently I dropped to the floor again and talked 
with Xodar, describing the various craft I had seen. 

"There is one there," he said, "my personal 
property, built to carry five men, that is the swiftest 
of the swift. If we can board her we can at least 
make a memorable run for liberty," and then he went 
on to describe to me the equipment of the boat; her 
engines, and all that went to make her the flier that 
she was. 

In his explanation I recognized a trick of gearing 
that Kantos Kan had taught me that time we sailed 
under false names in the navy of Zodanga beneath 
Sab Than, the Prince. And I knew then that the 
First Born had stolen it from the ships of Helium, 
for only they are thus geared. And I knew too that 
Xodar spoke the truth when he lauded the speed of 
his little craft, for nothing that cleaves the thin air 
of Mars can approximate the speed of the ships of 

We decided to wait for an hour at least until all 
the stragglers had sought their silks. In the mean- 
time I was to fetch the red youth to our cell so that 
we would be in readiness to make our rash break 
tor freedom together. 


I sprang to the top of our partition wall and 
pulled myself up onto it. There I found a flat sur- 
face about a foot in width and along this I walked 
until I came to the cell in which I saw the boy sitting 
upon his bench. He had been leaning back against 
the wall looking up at the glowing dome above 
Omean, and when he spied me balancing upon the 
partition wall above him his eyes opened wide in 
astonishment. Then a wide grin of appreciative un- 
derstanding spread across his countenance. 

As I stooped to drop to the floor beside him he 
motioned me to wait, and coming close below me 
whispered : " Catch my hand ; I can almost leap to 
the top of that wall myself. I have tried it many 
times, and each day I come a little closer. Some day 
I should have been able to make it." 

I lay upon my belly across the wall and reached 
my hand far down toward him. With a little run 
from the center of the cell he sprang up until I 
grasped his outstretched hand, and thus I pulled 
him to the wall's top beside me. 

"You ar^ the first jumper I ever saw among the 
red men of Barsoom," I said. 

He smiled. " It is not strange. I will tell you why 
when we have more time." 

Together we returned to the cell in which Xodar 
sat ; descending to talk with him until the hour had 

There we made our plans for the immediate f u- 



ture, binding ourselves by a solemn oath to fight to 
the death for one another against whatsoever enemies 
should confront us, for we knew that even should 
we succeed in escaping the First Born we might still 
have a whole world against us — the power of re- 
ligious superstition is mighty. 

It was agreed that I should navigate the craft 
after we had reached her, and that if we made the 
outer world in safety we should attempt to reach 
Helium without a stop. 

" Why Helium ? " asked the red youth. 

" I am a prince of Helium," I replied. 

He gave me a peculiar look, but said nothing fur- 
ther on the subject. I wondered at the time what the 
significance of his expression might be, but in the 
press of other matters it soon left my mind, nor did 
I have occasion to think of it again until later. 

" Come," I said at length, " now is as good a time 
as any. Let us go." 

Another moment found me at the top of the par- 
tition wall again with the boy beside me. Unbuck- 
ling my harness I snapped it together vith a single 
long strap which I lowered to the waiting Xodar 
below. He grasped the end and was soon sitting be- 
side us. 

" How simple," he laughed. 

" The balance skould be even simpler," I replied. 
Then I raised myself to the top of the outer wall of 
the prison, just so that I could peer over and locate 


the passing sentry. For a matter of five minutes I 
waited and then he came in sight on his slow and 
snail-like beat about the structure. 

I watched him until he had made the turn at the 
end of the building which carried him out of sight 
of the side of the prison that was to witness our dash 
for freedom. The moment his form disappeared I 
grasped Xodar and drew him to the top of the wall. 
Placing one end of my harness strap in his hands I 
lowered him quickly to the ground below. Then 
the boy grasped the strap and slid down to Xodar's 

In accordance with our arrangement they did not 
wait for me, but walked slowly toward the water, a 
matter of a hundred yards, directly past the guard 
house filled with sleeping soldiers. 

They had taken scarce a dozen steps when I too 
dropped to the ground and followed them leisurely 
toward the shore. As I passed the guard house the 
thought of all the good blades lying there gave me 
pause, for if ever men were to have need of swords 
it was my companions and I on the perilous trip upon 
which we were about to embark. 

I glanced toward Xodar and the youth and saw 
that they had slipped over the edge of the dock into 
the water. In accordance with our plan they were 
to remain there clinging to the metal rings which 
studded the concrete-like substance of the dock at 
the water's level, with only their mouths and noses 


_ — 

above the surface of the sea, until I should join 

The lure of the swords within the guard house 
was strong upon me, and I hesitated a moment, half 
inclined to risk the attempt to take the few we 
needed. That he who hesitates is lost proved itself 
a true aphorism in this instance, for another moment 
saw me creeping stealthily toward the door of the 
guard house. 

Gently I pressed it open a crack; enough to dis- 
cover a dozen blacks stretched upon their silks in 
profound slumber. At the far side of the room a 
rack held the swords and firearms of the men. Warily 
I pushed the door a trifle wider to admit my body. 
A hinge gave out a resentful groan. One of the men 
stirred, and my heart stood still. I cursed myself 
for a fool to have thus jeopardized our chances for 
escape ; but there was nothing for it now but to see 
the adventure through. 

With a spring as swift and as noiseless as a tiger's 
I lit beside the guardsman who had moved. My 
hands hovered about his throat awaiting the moment 
that his eyes should open. For what seemed an 
eternity to my overwrought nerves I remained 
poised thus. Then the fellow turned again upon 
his side and resumed the even respiration of deep 

Carefully I picked my way between and over the 
soldiers until I had gained the rack at the far side 


of the room. Here I turned to survey the sleeping 
men. All were quiet. Their regular breathing rose 
and fell in a soothing rhythm that seemed to me the 
sweetest music I ever had heard. 

Gingerly I drew a long-sword from the rack. The 
scraping of the scabbard against its holder as I with- 
drew it sounded like the filing of cast iron with a 
great rasp, and I looked to see the room immediately 
filled with alarmed and attacking guardsmen. But 
none stirred. 

The second sword I withdrew noiselessly, but the 
third clanked in its scabbard with a frightful din. 
I knew that it must awaken some of the men at least, 
and was on the point of forestalling their attack by 
a rapid charge for the doorway, when again, to my 
intense surprise, not a black moved. Either they 
were wondrous heavy sleepers or else the noises 
that I made were really much less than they seemed 
to me. 

I was about to leave the rack when my attention 
was attracted by the revolvers. I knew that I could 
not carry more than one away with me, for I was 
already too heavily laden to move quietly with any 
degree of safety or speed. As I took one of them 
from its pin my eye fell for the first time on an open > 
window beside the rack. Ah, here was a splendid 
means of escape, for it let directly upon the dock, 
not twenty feet from the water's edge. 

And as I congratulated myself, I heard the door 


opposite me open, and there looking me full in thu 
face stood the officer of the guard. He evidently 
took in the situation at a glance and appreciated the 
gravity of it as quickly as I, for our revolvers came 
up simultaneously and the sounds of the two reports 
were as one as we touched the buttons on the grips, 
that exploded the cartridges. 

I felt the wind of his bullet as it whizzed past my 
ear, and at the same instant I saw him crumple to 
the ground. Where I hit him I do not know, nor if 
I killed him, for scarce had he started to collapse 
when I was through the window at my rear. In an- 
other second the waters of Omean closed above my 
head, and the three of us were making for the little 
flier a hundred yards away. 

Xodar was burdened with the boy, and I with the 
three long-swords. The revolver I had dropped, so 
that while we were both strong swimmers it seemed 
to me that we moved at a snail's pace through the 
water. I was swimming entirely beneath the sur- 
face, but Xodar was compelled to rise often to let the 
youth breathe, so it was a wonder that we were not 
discovered long before we were. 

In fact we reached the boat's side and were all 
aboard before the watch upon the battleship, aroused 
by the shots, detected us. Then an alarm gun bel- 
lowed from the ship's bow, its deep boom rever- 
berating in deafening tones beneath the rocky dome 
of Omean. 


Instantly the sleeping thousands were awake. The 
decks of a thousand monster craft teemed with 
fighting men, for an alarm on Omean was a thing 
of rare occurrence. 

We cast away before the sound of the first gun 
had died, and another second saw us rising swiftly 
from the surface of the sea. I lay at full lengtk 
along the deck with the levers and buttons of control 
before me. Xodar and the boy were stretched di- 
rectly behind me, prone also that we might ofTer as 
little resistance to the air as possible. 

" Rise high," whispered Xodar. " They dare not 
fire their heavy guns toward the dome — the frag- 
ments of the shells would drop back among their 
own craft. If we are high enough our keel plates 
will protect us from rifle fire. ,, 

I did as he bade. Below us we could see the men 
leaping into the water by hundreds, and striking out 
for the small cruisers and one-man fliers that lay 
moored about the big ships. The larger craft were 
getting under way, following us rapidly, but not 
rising from the water. 

"A little to your right," cried Xodar, for there are 
no points of compass upon Omean where every di- 
rection is due north. 

The pandemonium that had broken out below us 
was deafening. Rifles cracked, officers shouted or- 
ders, men yelled directions to one another from the 
water and from the decks of myriad boats, while 


through all ran the purr of countless propellers cut- 
ting water and air. 

I had not dared pull my speed lever to the highest 
for fear of overrunning the mouth of the shaft that 
passed from Omean's dome to the world above, but 
even so we were hitting a clip that I doubt has ever 
been equalled on the windless sea. 

The smaller fliers were commencing to rise toward 
us when Xodar shouted: "The shaft! The 
shaft! Dead ahead," and I saw the opening, 
black and yawning in the glowing dome of this 

A ten-man cruiser was rising directly in front to 
cut off our escape. It was the only vessel that stood 
in our way, but at the rate that it was traveling it 
would come between us and the shaft in plenty of 
time to thwart our plans. 

It was rising at an angle of about forty-five de- 
grees dead ahead of us, with the evident intention 
of combing us with grappling hooks from above as 
it skimmed low over our deck. 

There was but one forlorn hope for us, and I took 
it. It was useless to try to pass over her, for that 
would have allowed her to force us against the rocky 
dome above, and we were already too near that as it 
was. To have attempted to dive below her would 
have put us entirely at her mercy, and precisely where 
she wanted us. On either side a hundred other men- 
acing craft were hastening toward us. The alternative 


was filled with risk — in fact it was all risk, with but 
a slender chance of success. 

As we neared the cruiser I rose as though to pass 
above her, so that she would do just what she did 
do, rise at a steeper angle to force me still higher. 
Then as we were almost upon her I yelled to my 
companions to hold tight, and throwing the little 
vessel into her highest speed I deflected her bows 
at the same instant until we were running horizon- 
tally and at terrific velocity straight for the cruiser's 

Her commander may have seen my intentions 
then, but it was too late. Almost at the instant of 
impact I turned my bows upward, and then with 
a shattering jolt we were in collision. What I had 
hoped for happened. The cruiser, already tilted at 
a perilous angle, was carried completely over back- 
ward by the impact of my smaller vessel. Her 
crew fell twisting and screaming through the air 
to the water far below, while the cruiser, her pro- 
pellers still madly churning, dove swiftly head- 
foremost after them to the bottom of the Sea of 

The collision crushed our steel bows, and not- 
withstanding every effort on our part came near to 
hurling us from the deck. As it was we landed in a 
wildly clutching heap at the very extremity of the 
flier, where Xodar and I succeeded in grasping the 
hand rail, but the boy would have plunged over- 


board had I not fortunately grasped his ankle as he 
was already partially over. 

Unguided, our vessel careened wildly in its mad 
flight, rising ever nearer the rocks above. It took 
but an instant, however, for me to regain the levers, 
and with the roof barely fifty feet above I turned her 
nose once more into the horizontal plane and headed 
her again for the black mouth of the shaft. 

The collision had retarded our progress and now 
a hundred swift scouts were close upon us. Xodar 
had told me that ascending the shaft by virtue of our 
repulsive rays alone would give our enemies their 
best chance to overtake us, since our propellers 
would be idle and in rising we would be outclassed 
by many of our pursuers. The swifter craft are 
seldom equipped with large buoyancy tanks, since 
the added bulk of them tends to reduce a vessel's 

As many boats were now quite close to us it was 
inevitable that we would be quickly overhauled in 
the shaft, and captured or killed in short order. 

To me there always seems a way to gain the op- 
posite side of an obstacle. If one cannot pass over it, 
or below it, or around it, why then there is but a 
single alternative left, and that is to pass through 
it. I could not get around the fact that many of 
these other boats could rise faster than ours by the 
fact of their greater buoyancy, but I was none the 
less determined to reach the outer world far in 


advance of them or die a death of my own choosing 
in event of failure. 

" Reverse ! " screamed Xodar, behind me. " For 
the love of your first ancestor, reverse. We are 
at the shaft." 

" Hold tight ! " I screamed in reply. " Grasp the 
boy and hold tight — we are going straight up the 

The words were scarce out of my mouth as we 
swept beneath the pitch-black opening. I threw the 
bow hard up, dragged the speed lever to its last 
notch, and clutching a stanchion with one hand and 
the steering wheel with the other hung on like grim 
death and consigned my soul to its author. 

I heard a little exclamation of surprise from Xo- 
dar, followed by a grim laugh. The boy laughed too 
and said something which I could not catch for the 
whistling of the wind of our awful speed. 

I looked above my head, hoping to catch the gleam 
of stars by which I could direct our course and hold 
the hurtling thing that bore us true to the center of 
the shaft. To have touched the side at the speed we 
were making would doubtless have resulted in in- 
stant death for us all. But not a star showed above 
— only utter and impenetrable darkness. 

Then I glanced below me, and there I saw a 
rapidly diminishing circle of light — the mouth of 
the opening above the phosphorescent radiance of 
Omean. By this I steered, endeavoring to keep the 


circle of light below me ever perfect. At best it was 
but a slender cord that held us from destruction, and 
I think that I steered that night more by intuition 
and blind faith than by skill or reason. 

We were not long in the shaft and possibly the 
very fact of our enormous speed saved us, for evi- 
dently we started in the right direction and so quickly 
were we out again that we had no time to alter our 
course. Omean lies perhaps two miles below the 
surface crust of Mars. Our speed must have approx- 
imated two hundred miles an hour, for Martian fliers 
are swift, so that at most we were in the shaft not 
over forty seconds. 

We must have been out of it for some seconds 
before I realized that we had accomplished the im- 
possible. Black darkness enshrouded all about us. 
There were neither moons nor stars. Never before 
had I seen such a thing upon Mars, and for the mo- 
ment I was nonplussed. Then the explanation came 
to me. It was summer at the south pole. The ice cap 
was melting and those meteoric phenomena, clouds, 
unknown upon the greater part of Barsoom were 
shutting out the light of heaven from this portion of 
the planet. 

Fortunate indeed it was for us, nor did it take me 
long to grasp the opportunity for escape which this 
happy condition offered us. Keeping the boat's nose 
at a stiff angle I raced her for the impenetrable cur- 
tain which Nature had hung above this dying world 


to shut us out from the sight of our pursuing 

We plunged through the cold damp fog without 
diminishing our speed, and in a moment emerged 
into the glorious light of the two moons and the mil- 
lion stars. I dropped into a horizontal course and 
headed due north. Our enemies were a good half 
hour behind us with no conception of our direction. 
We had performed the miraculous and come through 
a thousand dangers unscathed — we had escaped 
from the land of the First Born. No other prisoners 
in all the ages of Barsoom had done this thing, and 
now as I looked back upon it it did not seem to have 
been so difficult after all. 

I said as much to Xodar, over my shoulder. 

"It is very wonderful, nevertheless," he replied. 
" No one else could have accomplished it but John 

At the sound of that name the boy jumped to his 

" John Carter ! " he cried. " John Carter ! Why 
man, John Carter, Prince of Helium, has been dead 
for years. I am his son." 




MY SON ! I could not believe my ears. Slowly 
I rose and faced the handsome youth. Now 
that I looked at him closely I commenced to see why 
his face and personality had attracted me so strongly. 
There was much of his mother's incomparable beauty 
in his clear-cut features, but it was strongly mascu- 
line beauty, and his gray eyes and the expression of 
them were mine. 

The boy stood facing me, half hope and half un- 
certainty in his look. 

" Tell me of your mother," I said. " Tell me all 
you can of the years that I have been robbed by a 
relentless fate of her dear companionship." 

With a cry of pleasure he sprang toward me and 
threw his arms about my neck, and for a brief mo- 
ment as I held my boy close to me the tears welled 
to my eyes and I liked to have choked after the man- 
ner of some maudlin fool — but I do not regret it, 
nor am I ashamed. A long life has taught me that a 
man may seem weak where women and children are 
concerned and yet be anything but a weakling in 
the sterner avenues of life. 

" Your stature, your manner, the terrible ferocity 



of your swordsmanship," said the boy, " are as my 
mother has described them to me a thousand times 

— but even with such evidence I could scarce credit 
the truth of what seemed so improbable to me, how- 
ever much I desired it to be true. Do you know what 
thing it was that convinced more than all the 
others ? " 

"What, my boy?" I asked. 

"Your first words to me — they were of my 
mother. None else but the man who loved her as she 
has told me my father did would have thought first 
of her." 

"For long years, my son, I can scarce recall a 
moment that the radiant vision of your mother's 
face has not been ever before me. Tell me of her." 

" Those who have known her longest say that she 
has not changed, unless it be to grow more beautiful 

— were that possible. Only, when she thinks I am 
not about to see her, her face grows very sad, and, 
oh, so wistful. She thinks ever of you, my father, 
and all Helium mourns with her and for her. Her 
grandfather's people love her. They loved you also, 
and fairly worship your memory as the savior of 

" Each year that brings its anniversary of the day 
that saw you racing across a near dead world to un- 
lock the secret of that awful portal behind which lay 
the mighty power of life for countless millions a 
great festival is held in your honor; but there are 


tears mingled with the thanksgiving — tears of real 
regret that the author of the happiness is not with 
them to share the joy of living he died to give them. 
Upon all Barsoom there is no greater name tharv 
John Carter." 

"And by what name has your mother called you, 
my boy?" I asked. 

"The people of Helium asked that I be named 
with my father's name, but my mother said no, that 
you and she had chosen a name for me together and 
that your wish must be honored before all others, 
so the name that she called me is the one that 
you desired, a combination of hers and yours — 

Xodar had been at the wheel as I talked with my 
son, and now he called me. 

" She is dropping badly by the head, John Car- 
ter," he said. " So long as we were rising at a stiff 
angle it was not noticeable, but now that I am trying 
to keep a horizontal course it is different. The wound 
in her bow has opened one of her forward ray 

It was true, and after I had examined the damage 
I found it a much graver matter than I had antici- 
pated. Not only was the forced angle at which we 
were compelled to maintain the bow in order to 
keep a horizontal course greatly impeding our speed, 
but at the rate that we were losing our repulsive rays 
from the forward tanks it was but a question of an 


■»■ ■■ — — « 

hour or more when we would be floating stern up 
and helpless. 

We had slightly reduced our speed with the dawn- 
ing of a sense of security, but now I took the helm 
once more and pulled the noble little engine wide 
open, so that again we raced north at terrific veloc- 
ity. In the meantime Carthoris and Xodar with tools 
in hand were puttering with the great rent in the 
bow in a hopeless endeavor to stem the tide of 
escaping rays. 

It was still dark when we passed the northern 
boundary of the ice cap and the area of clouds, 
Below us lay a typical Martian landscape. Rolling 
ocher sea bottom of long dead seas, low surrounding 
hills, w T ith here and there the grim and silent cities 
of the dead past; great piles of mighty architecture 
tenanted only by age-old memories of a once power- 
ful race, and by the great white apes of Barsoom. 

It was becoming more and more difficult to main- 
tain our little vessel in a horizontal position. Lower 
and lower sagged the bow until it became necessary 
to stop the engine to prevent our flight terminating 
in a swift dive to the ground. 

As the sun rose and the light of a new day swept 
away the darkness of night our craft gave a final 
spasmodic plunge, turned half upon her side, and 
then with deck tilting at a sickening angle swung 
in a slow circle, her bow dropping further below 
her stern each moment 


To hand rail and stanchion we clung, and finally 
as we saw the end approaching, snapped the buckles 
of our harness to the rings at her sides. In another 
moment the deck reared at an angle of ninety de- 
grees and we hung in our leather with feet dangling 
a thousand yards above the ground. 

I was swinging quite close to the controlling de- 
vices, so I reached out to the lever that directed the 
rays of repulsion. The boat responded to the touch, 
and very gently we began to sink toward the ground. 

It was fully half an hour before we touched. 
Directly north of us rose a rather lofty range of 
hills, toward which we decided to make our way, 
since they afforded greater opportunity for conceal- 
ment from the pursuers we were confident might 
stumble in this direction. 

An hour later found us in the time-rounded gullies 
of the hills, amid the beautiful flowering plants that 
abound in the arid waste places of Barsoom. There 
we found numbers of huge milk-giving shrubs — 
that strange plant which serves in great part as food 
and drink for the wild hordes of green men. It 
was indeed a boon to us, for we all were nearly 

Beneath a cluster of these which afforded perfect 
concealment from wandering air scouts, we lay dowr 
to sleep — for me the first time in many hours. 
This was the beginning of my fifth day upon Bar- 
soom since I had found myself suddenly translated 


from my cottage on the Hudson to Dor, the valley 
beautiful, the valley hideous. In all this time I had 
slept but twice, though once the clock around within 
the storehouse of the therns. 

It was mid-afternoon when I was awakened by 
someone seizing my hand and covering it with 
kisses. With a start I opened my eyes to look into 
the beautiful face of Thuvia. 

" My Prince ! My Prince ! " she cried, in an 
ecstasy of happiness. "Tis you whom I had 
mourned as dead. My ancestors have been good 
to me; I have not lived in vain." 

The girl's voice awoke Xodar and Carthoris. The 
boy gazed upon the woman in surprise, but she did 
not seem to realize the presence of another than I. 
She would have thrown her arms about my neck 
and smothered me with caresses, had I not gently 
but firmly disengaged myself. 

"Come, come, Thuvia," I said soothingly; "you 
are overwrought by the danger and hardships you 
have passed through. You forget yourself, as you 
forget that I am the husband of the Princess of 
Helium. ,, 

" I forget nothing, my Prince," she replied. " YoUj 
have spoken no word of love to me, nor do I expect' 
that you ever shall; but nothing can prevent me 
loving you. I would not take the place of Dejah 
Thoris. My greatest ambition is to serve you, my 
Prince, forever a^ your slave. No greater boon 


could I ask, no greater honor could I crave, no 
greater happiness could I hope." 

As I have before said, I am no ladies' man, and I 
must admit that I seldom have felt so uncomfort- 
able and embarrassed as I did that moment. While 
I was quite familiar with the Martian custom which 
allows female slaves to Martian men, whose high 
and chivalrous honor is always ample protection lor 
every woman in his household, yet I had never my- 
self chosen other than men as my body servants. 

"And I ever return to Helium, Thuvia," I said, 
"you shall go with me, but as an honored equal, 
and not as a slave. There you shall find plenty of 
handsome young nobles who would face Issus her- 
self to win a smile from you, and we shall have you 
married in short order to one of the best of them. 
Forget your foolish gratitude-begotten infatuation, 
which your innocence has mistaken for love. I 
like your friendship better, Thuvia. " 

"You are my master; it shall be as you say," she 
replied simply, but there was a note of sadness in 
her voice. 

"How came you here, Thuvia?" I asked. "And 
where is Tars Tarkas ? " 

"The great Thark, I fear, is, dead," she replied 
sadly. " He was a mighty fighter, but a multitude 
of green warriors of another horde than his over- 
whelmed him. The last that I saw of him they 
were bearing him, wounded and bleeding, to the 


deserted city from which they had sallied to at- 
tack us." 

" You are not sure that he is dead, then ? " I asked. 
"And where is this city of which you speak? " 

" It is just beyond this range of hills. The vessel 
in which you so nobly resigned a place that we might 
escape defied our small skill in navigation, with the 
result that we drifted aimlessly about for two days. 
Then we decided to abandon the craft and attempt 
to make our way on foot to the nearest waterway. 
Yesterday we crossed these hills and came upon the 
dead city beyond. We had passed within its streets 
and were walking toward the central portion, when 
at an intersecting avenue we saw a body of green 
warriors approaching. 

" Tars Tarkas was in advance, and they saw him, 
but me they did not see. The Thark sprang back 
to my side and forced me into an adjacent doorway, 
where he told me to remain in hiding until I could 
escape, making my way to Helium if possible. 

" ' There will be no escape for me now,' he said, 
4 for these be the Warhoons of the South. When 
they have seen my metal it will be to the death.' 

"Then he stepped out to meet them. Ah, my 
Prince, such fighting! For an hour they swarmed 
about him, until the Warhoon dead formed a hill 
where he had stood; but at last they overwhelmed 
him, those behind pushing the foremost upon him 
until there remained no space to swing his great 

218 THE GODS OF M^iM 1 

sword. Then he stumbled and went down, and they 
rolled over him like a huge wave. When they car- 
ried him away toward the heart of the city, he was 
dead, I think, for I did not see him move." 

" Before we go farther we must be sure," I said. 
" I cannot leave Tars Tarkas alive among the War- 
hoons. Tonight I shall enter the city and make 

"And I shall go with you," spoke Carthoris. 

"And I," said Xodar. 

"Neither one of you shall go," I replied. "It is 
work that requires stealth and strategy, not force. 
One man alone may succeed where more would invite 
disaster. I shall go alone. If I need your help, I 
will return for you." 

They did not like it, but both were good soldiers, 
and it had been agreed that I should command. The 
sun already was low, so that I did not have long to 
wait before the sudden darkness of Barsoom en- 
gulfed us. 

With a parting word of instructions to Carthoris 
and Xodar, in case I should not return, I bade them 
all farewell and set forth at a rapid dogtrot toward 
the city. 

As I emerged from the hills the nearer moon was 
winging its wild flight through the heavens, its 
bright beams turning to burnished silver the bar- 
baric splendor of the ancient metropolis. The city 
had been built upon the gently rolling foothills that 


in the dim and distant past had sloped down to meet 
the sea. It was due to this fact that I had no diffi- 
culty in entering the streets unobserved. 

The green hordes that use these deserted cities 
seldom occupy more than a few squares about the 
central plaza, and as they come and go always across 
the dead sea bottoms that the cities face, it is usually 
a matter of comparative ease to enter from the hill- 

Once within the streets, I kept close in the dense 
shadows of the walls. At intersections I halted a 
moment to make sure that none was in sight before 
I sprang quickly to the shadows of the opposite side. 
Thus I made the journey to the vicinity of the plaza 
without detection. As I approached the purlieus of 
the inhabited portion of the city I was made aware 
of the proximity of the warriors' quarters by the 
squealing and grunting of the thoats and zitidars 
corralled within the hollow court-yards formed by 
the buildings surrounding each square. 

These old familiar sounds that are so distinctive 
of green Martian life sent a thrill of pleasure surg- 
ing through me. It was as one might feel on com- 
ing home after a long absence. It was amid such 
sounds that I had first courted the incomparable 
Dejah Thoris in the age-old marble halls of the dead 
city of Korad. 

As I stood in the shadows at the far corner of 
the first square which housed members of the horde, 


I saw warriors emerging from several of the build* 
ings. They all went in the same direction, toward 
a great building which stood in the center of the 
plaza. My knowledge of green Martian customs 
convinced me that this was either the quarters of the 
principal chieftain or contained the audience cham- 
ber wherein the Jeddak met his jeds and lesser chief- 
tains. In either event, it was evident that something 
was afoot which might have a bearing on the recent 
capture of Tars Tarkas. 

To reach this building, which I now felt it impera- 
tive that I do, I must need traverse the entire length 
of one square and cross a broad avenue and a por- 
tion of the plaza. From the noises of the animals 
*^& came from every court-yard about me, I Knew 
tnav. rhere were many people in the surrounding 
buildings — probably several communities of the 
great horde of the Warhoons of the South. 

To pass undetected among all these people was in 
itself a difficult task, but if I was to find and rescue 
the great Thark I must expect even more formidable 
obstacles before success could be mine. I had en- 
tered the city from the south and now stood on the 
corner of the avenue through which I had passed 
and the first intersecting avenue south of the plaza. 
The buildings upon the south side of this square did 
not appear to be inhabited, as I could see no lights, 
and so I decided to gain the inner court-yard through 
one of them. 


Nothing occurred to interrupt my progress through 
the deserted pile I chose, and I came into the inner 
court close to the Tear walls of the east buildings 
without detection. Within the court a great herd of 
thoats and zitidars moved restlessly about, cropping 
the moss-like ocher vegetation which overgrows 
practically the entire uncultivated area of Mars. 
What breeze there was came from the northwest, 
so there was little danger that the beasts would 
scent me. Had they, their squealing and grunting 
would have grown to such a volume as to attract 
the attention of the warriors within the buildings. 

Close to the east wall, beneath the overhanging 
balconies of the second floors, I crept in dense shad- 
ows the full length of the court-yard, until I came 
to the buildings at the north end. These were lighted 
for about three floors up, but above the third floor 
all was dark. 

To pass through the lighted rooms was, of course, 
out of the question, since they swarmed with green 
Martian men and women. My only path lay through 
the upper floors, and to gain these it was necessary 
to scale the face of the wall. The reaching of the 
balcony of the second floor was a matter of easy 
accomplishment — an agile leap gave my hands 
a grasp upon the stone hand rail above. In 
another instant I had drawn myself upon the bal- 

Here through the open windows I saw the green 


folk squatting upon their sleeping silks and furs, 
grunting an occasional monosyllable, which, in con- 
nection with their wondrous telepathic powers, is 
ample for their conversational requirements. As I 
drew closer to listen to their words a warrior en- 
tered the room from the hall beyond. 

"Come, Tan Gama," he cried, "we are to take 
the Thark before Kab Kadja. Bring another with 

The warrior addressed arose and- beckoning to a 
fellow squatting near, the three turned and left the 

If I could but follow them the chance might come 
to free Tars Tarkas at once. At least I would learn 
the location of his prison. 

At my right was a door leading from the bal- 
cony into the building. It was at the end of an 
unlighted hall, and on the impulse of the moment I 
stepped within. The hall was broad and led straight 
through to the front of the building. On either 
side were the doorways of the various apartments 
which lined it 

I had no more than entered the corridor than I 
saw the three warriors at the other end — those 
whom I had just seen leaving the apartment. Then 
a turn to the right took them from my sight again. 
Quickly I hastened along the hallway in pursuit. 
My gate was reckless, but I felt that Fate had been 
kWd indeed to throw such an opportunity within 


my grasp, and I could not afford to allow it to elude 
me now. 

At the far end of the corridor I found a spiral 
stairway leading to the floors above and below. The 
three had evidently left the floor by this avenue. 
That they had gone down and not up I was sure 
from my knowledge of these ancient buildings and 
the methods of the Warhoons. 

I myself had once been a prisoner of the cruel 
hordes of northern Warhoon, and the memory of 
the underground dungeon in which I lay still is vivid 
in my memory. And so I felt certain that Tars 
Tarkas lay in the dark pits beneath some nearby 
building, and that in that direction I should find the 
trail of the three warriors leading to his cell. 

Nor was I wrong. At the bottom of the runway, 
or rather at the landing on the floor below, I saw 
that the shaft descended into the pits beneath, and 
as I glanced down the flickering light of a torch 
revealed the presence of the three I was trailing. 

Down they went toward the pits beneath the struc- 
ture, and at a safe distance behind I followed the 
flicker of their torch. The way led through a maze 
of tortuous corridors, unlighted save for the waver- 
ing light they carried. We had gone perhaps a hun- 
dred yards when the party turned abruptly through 
a doorway at their right. I hastened on as rapidly 
as I dared through the darkness until I reached the 
point at which they had left the corridor.. There, 


through an open door, I saw them removing the 
chains that secured the great Thark, Tars Tarkas, to 
the wall. 

Hustling him roughly between them, they came 
immediately from the chamber, so quickly in fact 
that I was near to being apprehended. But I man- 
aged to run along the corridor in the direction I had 
been going in my pursuit of them far enough to be 
without the radius of their meager light as they 
emerged from the cell. 

I had naturally assumed that they would return 
with Tars Tarkas the same way that they hail come, 
which would have carried them away from me ; but, 
to my chagrin, they wheeled directly in my direction 
as they left the room. There was nothing for me 
but to hasten on in advance and keep out of the light 
of their torch. I dared not attempt to halt in the 
darkness of any of the many intersecting corridors, 
for I knew nothing of the direction the)'' might take. 
Chance was as likely as not to carry me into the very 
corridor they might choose to enter. 

The sensation of moving rapidly through these 
dark passages was far from reassuring. I knew not 
at what moment I might plunge headlong into some 
terrible pit or meet with some of the ghoulish crea- 
tures that inhabit these lower worlds beneath the 
dead cities of dying Mars. There filtered to me a 
[faint radiance from the torch of the men behind — ■ 
just enough to permit me to trace the direction of 


the winding passageways directly before me, and 
so keep me from dashing myself against the walls 
at the turns. 

Presently I came to a place where five corridors 
diverged from a common point. I had hastened 
along one of them for some little distance when 
suddenly the faint light of the torch disappeared 
from about me. I paused to listen for sounds of 
the party behind me, but the silence was as utter 
as the silence of the tomb. 

Quickly I realized that the warriors had taken 
one of the other corridors with their prisoner, and 
so I hastened back with a feeling of considerable 
relief to take up a much safer and more desirable 
position behind them. It was much slower work 
returning, however, than it had been coming, for 
now the darkness was as utter as the silence. 

It was necessary to feel every foot of the way 
back with my hand against the side wall, that I 
might not pass the spot where the five roads radiated. 
After what seemed an eternity to me, I reached the 
place and recognized it by groping across the en- 
trances to the several corridors until I had counted 
five of them. In not one, however, showed the 
faintest sign of light. 

I listened intently, but the naked feet of the 
green men sent back no guiding echoes, though pres- 
ently I thought I detected the clank of side arms in 
the far distance of the middle corridor. Up this, 


then, I hastened, searching for the light, and stop- 
ping to listen occasionally for a repetition of the 
sound; but soon I was forced to admit that I must 
have been following a blind lead, as only darkness 
and silence rewarded my efforts. 

Again I retraced my steps toward the parting of 
the ways, when to my surprise I came upon the 
entrance to three diverging corridors, any one of 
which I might have traversed in my hasty dash after 
the false clew I had been following. Here was a 
pretty fix, indeed! Once back at the point where 
the five passageways met, I might wait with some 
assurance for the return of the warriors with Tars 
Tarkas. My knowledge of their customs lent color 
to the belief that he was but being escorted to the 
audience chamber to have sentence passed upon him. 
I had not the slightest doubt but that they would 
preserve so doughty a warrior as the great Thark 
for the rare sport he would furnish at the Great 

But unless I could find my way back to that point 
the chances were most excellent that I would wander 
for days through the awful blackness, until, over- 
come by thirst and hunger, I lay down to die, or 

What was that ! 

A faint shuffling sounded behind me, and as I 
cast a hasty glance over my shoulder my blood 
froze in my veins for the thing I saw there. It was 
not so much fear of the present danger as it was 


the horrifying memories it recalled of that time I 
near went mad over the corpse of the man I had 
killed in the dungeons of the Warhoons, when blaz- 
ing eyes came out of the dark recesses and dragged 
the thing that had been a man from my clutches 
and I heard it scraping over the stone of my prison 
as they bore it away to their terrible feast. 

And now m these black pits of the other War- 
hoons I looked into those same fiery eyes, blazing 
at me through the terrible darkness, revealing no 
sign of the beast behind them. I think that the 
most fearsome attribute of these awesome creatures 
is their silence and the fact that one never sees them 
— nothing but those baleful eyes glaring unblink- 
ingly out of the dark void behind. 

Grasping my long-sword tightly in my hand, I 
backed slowly along the corridor away from the 
thing that watched me, but ever as I retreated the 
eyes advanced, nor was there any sound, not even 
the sound of breathing, except the occasional shuf- 
fling sound as of the dragging of a dead limb, that 
had first attracted my attention. 

On and on I went, but I could not escape my 
sinister pursuer. Suddenly I heard the shuffling 
noise at my right, and, looking, saw another pair of 
eyes, evidently approaching from an intersecting 
corridor. As I started to renew my slow retreat I 
heard the noise repeated behind me, and then before 
I could turn I heard it again at my left. 


The things were all about me. They had me 
surrounded at the intersection of two corridors. Re- 
treat was cut off in all directions, unless I chose to 
charge one of the beasts. Even then I had no doubt 
but that the others would hurl themselves upon my 
back. I could not even guess the size or nature of the 
weird creatures. That they were of goodly propor- 
tions I guessed from the fact that the eyes were 
on a level with my own. 

Why is it that darkness so magnifies our dangers ? 
By day I would have charged the great banth itself, 
had I thought it necessary, but hemmed in by the 
darkness of these silent pits I hesitated before a 
pair of eyes. 

Soon I saw that the matter shortly would be 
taken entirely from my hands, for the eyes at my 
right were moving slowly nearer me, as were those 
at my left and those behind and before me. Grad- 
ually they were closing in upon me — but still that 
awful stealthy silence! 

For what seemed hours the eyes approached grad- 
ually closer and closer, until I felt that I should go 
mad for the horror of it. I had been constantly 
turning this way and that to prevent any sudden 
rush from behind, until I was fairly worn out. At 
length I could endure it no longer, and, taking a 
fresh grasp upon my long-sword, I turned suddenly 
and charged down upon one of my tormentors. 

As I was almost upon it the thing retreated before 


me, but a sound from behind caused me to wheel 
in time to see three pairs of eyes rushing at me from 
the rear, With a cry of rage I turned to meet the 
cowardly beasts, but as I advanced they retreated 
as had their fellow. Another glance over my shoul- 
der discovered the first eyes sneaking on me again. 
And again I charged, only to see the eyes retreat 
before me and hear the muffled rush of the three at 
my back. 

Thus we continued, the eyes always a little closer 
in the end than they had been before, until I thought 
that I should go mad for the terrible strain of the 
ordeal. That they were waiting to spring upon my 
back seemed evident, and that it would not be long 
before they succeeded was equally apparent, for I 
could not endure tV wear of this repeated charge 
and countercharge indefinitely. In fact, I could feel 
myself weakening from the mental and physical 
strain I had been undergoing. 

At that moment I caught another glimpse from 
the corner of my eye of the single pair of eyes at 
my back making a sudden rush upon me. I turned 
to meet the charge; there was a quick rush of the 
three from the other direction ; but I determined to 
pursue the single pair until I should have at least 
settled my account with one of the beasts and thus 
be relieved of the strain of meeting attacks from 
both directions. 

There was no sound in the corridor only that of 


my own breathing, yet I knew that those three un- 
canny creatures were almost upon me. The eyes in 
front were not retreating so rapidly now; I was 
almost within sword reach of them. I raised my 
sword arm to deal the blow that should free me, and 
then I felt a heavy body upon my back. A cold, 
moist, slimy something fastened itself upon my 
throat I stumbled and went down. 



I COULD not have been unconscious more than 
a few seconds, and yet I know that I was un- 
conscious, for the next thing I realized was that a 
growing radiance was illuminating the corridor 
about me and the eyes were gone. 

I was unharmed except for a slight bruise upon 
my forehead where it had struck the stone flagging 
as I fell. 

I sprang to my feet to ascertain the cause of the 
light. It came from a torch in the hand of one of 
a party of four green warriors who were coming 
rapidly down the corridor toward me. They had 
not yet seen me, and so I lost no time in slipping 
into the first intersecting corridor that I could find. 
This time, however, I did not advance so far away 
from the main corridor as on the other occasion 
that had resulted in my losing Tars Tarkas and his 

The party came rapidly toward the opening of 
the passageway in which I crouched against the 
walL As they passed by I breathed a sigh of relief. 
I had not been discovered, and, best of all, the 
party was the same whom I had followed into the 



pits. It consisted of Tars Tarkas and his three 

I fell in behind them and soon we were at the 
cell in which the great Thark had been chained. 
Two of the warriors remained without while the 
man with the keys entered with the Thark to fasten 
his irons upon him once more. The two outside 
started to stroll slowly in the direction of the spiral 
runway which leads to the floors above, and in a 
moment were lost to view beyond a turn in the 

The torch had been stuck in a socket beside the 
door, so that its rays illuminated both the corridor 
and the cell at the same time. As I saw the two 
warriors disappear I approached the entrance to the 
cell, with a well-defined plan already formulated. 

While I disliked the thought of carrying out the 
thing that I had decided upon, there seemed no alter- 
native if Tars Tarkas and I were to go back together 
to my little camp in the hills. 

Keeping near the wall, I came quite close to the 
door to Tars Tarkas* cell, and there I stood with my 
long-sword above my head, grasped with both hands, 
that I might bring it down in one quick cut upon the 
skull of the jailer as he emerged. 

I dislike to dwell upon what followed after I 
heard the footsteps of the man as he approached the 
doorway. It is enough that within another minute 
or two, Tars Tarkas, wearing the metaJ oi % War- 


hoon chief, was hurrying down the corridor toward 
the spiral runway, bearing the Warhoon's torch 
to light his way. A dozen paces behind him fol- 
lowed Joh*i Carter, Prince of Helium. 

The two companions of the man who lay now 
beside the door of the cell that had been Tars Tar- 
kas' had just started to ascend the runway as the 
Thark came in view. 

"Why so long, Tan Gama?" cried one of the 

" I had trouble with, a lock," replied Tars Tarkas. 
"And now I find that I have left my short-sword in 
the Thark's cell. Go you on, I'll return and fetch it." 

"As you will, Tan Gama," replied he who had 
before spoken. " We shall see you above directly." 

" Yes," replied Tars Tarkas, and turned as though 
to retrace his steps to the cell, but he only waited 
until the two had disappeared at the floor above. 
Then I joined him, we extinguished the torch, and 
together we crept toward the spiral incline that led 
to the upper floors of the building. 

At the first floor we found that the hallway ran 
but half way through, necessitating the crossing of 
a rear room full of green folk, ere we could reach 
the inner court-yard, so there was but one thing left 
for us to do, and that was to gain the second floor 
and the hallway through which I had traversed the 
length of the building. 

Cautiously we ascended. We could hear the sounds 


of conversation coming from the room above, but 
the hall still was unlighted, nor was anyone in sight 
as we gained the top of the runway. Together we 
threaded the long hall and reached the balcony over- 
looking the court-yard, without being detected. 

At our right was the window letting into the room 
in which I had seen Tan Gama and the other war- 
riors as they started to Tars Tarkas' cell earlier in 
the evening. His companions had returned here, 
and we now overheard a portion of their conver- 

"What can be detaining Tan Gama?" asked one. 

" He certainly could not be all this time fetching 
his short-sword from the Thark's cell, ,, spoke an- 

"His short-sword?" asked a woman. "What 
mean you?" 

"Tan Gama left his short-sword in the Thark's 
cell," explained the first speaker, "and left us at 
the runway, to return and get it." 

"Tan Gama wore no short-sword this night," 
said the woman. "It was broken in today's battle 
with the Thark, and Tan Gama gave it to me to 
repair. See, I have it here," and as she spoke she 
drew Tan Gama's short-sword from beneath her 
sleeping silks and furs. 

The warriors sprang to their feet. 

" There is something amiss here," cried one. 

" 'Tis even what I myself thought when Tan Gama 


left us at the runway," said another. " Methought 
then that his voice sounded strangely.' ' 

" Come ! let us hasten to the pits." 

We waited to hear no more. Slinging my har- 
ness into a long single strap, I lowered Tars Tarkas 
to the court-yard beneath, and an instant later 
dropped to his side. 

We had spoken scarcely a dozen words since I 
had felled Tan Gama at the cell door and seen in the 
torch's light the expression of utter bewilderment 
upon the great Thark's face. 

"By this time," he had said, "I should have 
learned to wonder at nothing which John Carter 
accomplishes." That was all. He did not need 
to tell me that he appreciated the friendship 
which had prompted me to risk my life to rescue 
him, nor did he need to say that he was glad to 
see me. 

This fierce green warrior had been the first to 
greet me that day, now twenty years gone, which 
had witnessed my first advent upon Mars. He had 
met me with leveled speer and cruel hatred in his 
heart as he charged down upon me, bending low 
at the side of his mighty thoat as I stood beside the 
incubator of his horde upon the dead sea bottom 
beyond Korad. And now among the inhabitants of 
two worlds I counted none a better friend than Tars 
Tarkas, Jeddak of the Tharks. 

As we reached the court-yard we stood in the 


shadows beneath the balcony for a moment to dis- 
cuss our plans. 

" There be five now in the party, Tars Tarkas," I 
said; "Thuvia, Xodar, Carthoris, and ourselves. 
We shall need five thoats to bear us." 

" Carthoris ! " he cried. " Your son ? " 

"Yes. I found him in the prison of Shador, on 
the Sea of Omean, in the Land of the First Born." 

"I know not any of these places, John Carter. 
Be they upon Barsoom ? " 

"Upon and below, my friend; but wait until we 
shall have made good our escape, and you shall hear 
the strangest narrative that ever a Barsoomian of 
the outer world gave ear to. Now we must steal our 
thoats and be w T ell away to the north before these 
fellows discover how we have tricked them." 

In safety we reached the great gates at the far 
end of the court-yard, through which it was neces- 
sary to take our thoats to the avenue beyond. It is 
no easy matter to handle five of these great, fierce 
beasts, which by nature are as wild and ferocious 
as their masters and held in subjection by cruelty 
and brute force alone. 

As we approached them they sniffed our unfamil- 
iar scent and with squeals of rage circled about us. 
Their long, massive necks upreared raised their 
great, gaping mouths high above our heads. They 
are fearsome appearing brutes at best, but when 
they are aroused they are fully as dangerous as they 


look. The thoat stands a good ten feet at the shoul- 
der. His hide is sleek and hairless, and of a dark 
slate color on back and sides, shading down his eight 
legs to a vivid yellow at the huge, padded, nailless 
feet; the belly is pure white. A broad, flat tail, 
larger at the tip than at the root, completes the pic- 
ture of this ferocious green Martian mount — a fit 
war steed for these war-like people. 

As the thoats are guided by telepathic means alone, 
there is no need for rein or bridle, and so our object 
now was to find two that would obey our unspoken 
commands. As they charged about us we succeeded 
in mastering them sufficiently to prevent any con- 
certed attack upon us, but the din of their squealing 
was certain to bring investigating warriors into the 
court-yard were it to continue much longer. 

At length I was successful in reaching the side 
of one great brute, and ere he knew what I was about 
I was firmly seated astride his glossy back. A moment 
later Tars Tarkas had caught and mounted another, 
and then between us we herded three or four more 
toward the great gates. 

Tars Tarkas rode ahead and, leaning down to the 
jlatch, threw the barriers open, while I held the loose 
'thoats from breaking back to the herd. Then to- 
gether we rode through into the avenue with our 
stolen mounts and, without waiting to close the 
gates, hurried off toward the southern boundary o f 
the city. 



Thus far our escape had been little short of mar- 
velous, nor did our good fortune desert us, for we 
passed the outer purlieus of the dead city and came 
to our camp without hearing even the faintest sound 
of pursuit. 

Here a low whistle, the prearranged signal, ap- 
prised the balance of our party that I was returning, 
and we were met by the three with every manifesta- 
tation of enthusiastic rejoicing. 

But little time was wasted in narration of our 
adventure. Tars Tarkas and Carthoris exchanged 
the dignified and formal greetings common upon 
Barsoom, but I could tell intuitively that the Thark 
loved my boy and that Carthoris reciprocated his 

Xodar and the green Jeddak were formally pre- 
sented to each other. Then Thuvia was lifted to 
the least fractious thoat, Xodar and Carthoris 
mounted two others, and we set out at a rapid pace 
toward the east. At the far extremity of the city 
we circled toward the north, and under the glorious 
rays of the two moons we sped noiselessly across 
the dead sea bottom, away from the Warhoons and 
the First Born, but to what new dangers and adven- 
tures we knew not 

Toward noon of the following day we halted to 
rest our mounts and ourselves. The beasts we hob- 
bled, that they might move slowly about cropping 
the ocher moss-like vegetation which constitutes 


—■ "^■^■^■^' ' ' »^— " ■ — ■ —■■III " V ■j j^ l 111 ■■■ ■■-■■ ! ■ ■ — ^ ^— — ■■ ■ 

both food and drink for them on the march. Thuvia 
volunteered to remain on watch while the balance 
of the party slept for an hour. 

It seemed to me that I had but closed my eyes 
when I felt her hand upon my shoulder and heard 
her soft voice warning me of a new danger. 

"Arise, O Prince," she whispered. "There be 
that behind us which has the appearance of a great 
body of pursuers." 

The girl stood pointing in the direction from 
whence we had come, and as I arose and looked, I, 
too, thought that I could detect a thin dark line on 
the far horizon. I awoke the others. Tars Tarkas, 
whose giant stature towered high above the rest of 
us, could see the farthest. 

" It is a great body of mounted men," he said, 
"and they are traveling at high speed.' , 

There was no time to be lost. We sprang to our 
hobbled thoats, freed them, and mounted. Then we 
turned our faces once more toward the north and 
took our flight again at the highest speed of our 
slowest beast. 

For the balance of the day and all the following 
night we raced across that ocher wilderness with 
the pursuers at our back ever gaining upon us. 
Slowly but surely they were lessening the distance 
between us. Just before dark they had been close 
enough for us to plainly distinguish that they were 
green Martians, and all during the long night we 


distinctly heard the clanking of their accouterments 
behind us. 

As the sun rose on the second day of our flight 
it disclosed the pursuing horde not a half mile in 
our rear. As they saw us a fiendish shout of triumph 
rose from their ranks. 

Several miles in advance lay a range of hills — the 
farther shore of the dead sea we had been crossing. 
Could we but reach these hills our chances of escape 
would be greatly enhanced, but Thuvia's mount, 
although carrying the lightest burden, already w r as 
showing signs of exhaustion. I was riding beside 
her when suddenly her animal staggered and lurched 
against mine. I saw that he was going down, but 
ere he fell I snatched the girl from his back and 
swung her to a place upon my own thoat, behind 
me, where she clung with her arms about me. 

This double burden soon proved too much for 
my already overtaxed beast, and thus our speed was 
terribly diminished, for the others would proceed 
no faster than the slowest of us could go. In that 
little party there was not one who would desert 
another; yet we were of different countries, differ- 
ent colors, different races, different religions — and 
one of us was of a different world. 

We were quite close to the hills, but the Warhoons 
were gaining so rapidly that w r e had given up all 
hope of reaching them in time. Thuvia and I were 
in the rear, for our beast was lagging more and more. 


Suddenly I felt the girl's warm lips press a kiss upon 
my shoulder. " For thy sake, O my Prince/' she 
murmured. Then her arms slipped from about my 
waist and she was gone. 

I turned and saw that she had deliberately slipped 
to the ground in the very path of the cruel demons 
who pursued us, thinking that by lightening the bur- 
den of my mount it might thus be enabled to bear 
me to the safety of the hills. Poor child! She 
should have known John Carter better than that. 

Turning my thoat, I urged him after her, hoping 
to reach her side and bear her on again in our hope- 
less flight. Carthoris must have glanced behind him 
at about the same time and taken in the situation, 
for by the time I had reached Thuvia's side he was 
there also, and, springing from his mount, he threw 
her upon its back and, turning the animal's head 
toward the hills, gave the beast a sharp crack across 
the rump with the flat of his sword. Then he 
attempted to do the same with mine. 

The brave boy's act of chivalrous self-sacrifice 
filled me with pride, nor did I care that it had 
wrested from us our last frail chance for escape. 
The Warhoons were now close upon us. Tars Tarkas 
and Xodar had discovered our absence and were 
charging rapidly to our support. Everything pointed 
toward a splendid ending of my second journey to 
Barsoom. I hated to go out without having seen 
my divine Princess, and held her in my arms once 


again; but if it were not writ upon the book of 
Fate that such w*s to be, then would I take the 
most that was coming to me, and in these last few 
moments that wem to be vouchsafed me before I 
passed over into that unguessed future I could at 
least give such an account of myself in my chosen 
vocation as would leave the Warhoons of the South 
food for discourse lor the next twenty genera- 

As Carthoris was not mounted, I slipped from the 
back of my own mount and took my place at his 
side to meet the charge of the howling devils bearing 
down upon us. A moment later Tars Tarkas and 
Xodar ranged themselves on either hand, turning 
their thoats loose that we might all be on an equal 

The Warhoons were perhaps a hundred yards 
from us when a loud explosion, sounded from above 
and behind us, and almost at the same instant a shell 
burst in their advancing ranks. At once all was 
confusion. A hundred warriors toppled to the 
ground. Riderless thoats plunged hither and thither 
among the dead and dying. Dismounted warriors 
were trampled under foot in the stampede which 
followed. All semblance of order had left the ranks 
of the green men, and as they looked far above our 
heads to trace the origin of this unexpected attack, 
disorder turned to retreat and retreat to a wild panic. 
In another moment they were racing as madly away 


from us as they had before been charging down 
upon us. 

We turned to look in the direction from whence 
the first report had come, and there we saw, just 
clearing the tops of the nearer hills, a great battle- 
ship swinging majestically through the. air. Her 
bow gun spoke again even as we looked, and another 
shell burst among the fleeing Warhoons. 

As she drew nearer I could not repress r, wild cry 
of elation, for upon her bows I saw thtf devke of 



AS CARTHORIS, Xodar, Tars Tarkas, and I 
stood gazing at the magnificent vessel which 
meant so much to all of us, we saw a second and 
then a third top the summit of the hills and glide 
gracefully after their sister. 

Now a score of one-man air scouts were launching 
from the upper decks of the nearer vessel, and in a 
moment more were speeding in long, swift dives to 
the ground about us. 

In another instant we were surrounded by armed 
sailors, and an officer had stepped forward to address 
us, when his eyes fell upon Carthoris. With an 
exclamation of surprised pleasure he sprang for- 
ward, and, placing his hand upon the boy's shoulder, 
called him by name. 

"Carthoris, my Prince," he cried, "Kaor! Kaor! 
Hor Vastus greets the son of Dejah Thoris, Princess 
of Helium, and of her husband, John Carter. Where 
have you been, O my Prince? All Helium has been 
plunged in sorrow. Terrible have been the calami- 
ties that have befallen your great-grandsire's mighty 
nation since the fatal day that saw you leave our 



" Grieve not, my good Hor Vastus," cried Car- 
thoris, " since I bring not back myself alone to cheer 
my mother's heart and the hearts of my beloved 
people, but also one whom all Barsoom loved best — 
her greatest warrior and her savior — John Carter, 
Prince of Helium ! " 

Hor Vastus turned in the direction indicated by 
Carthoris, and as his eyes fell upon me he liked to 
have collapsed from sheer surprise. 

" John Carter ! " he exclaimed, and then a sudden 
troubled look came into his eyes. " My Prince," he 

started, " where hast thou " and then he stopped, 

but I knew the question that his lips dared not frame. 
The loyal fellow would not be the one to force from 
mine a confession of the terrible truth that I had 
returned from the bosom of Iss, the River of Mys- 
tery, back from the shore of the Lost Sea of Korus, 
and the Valley Dor. 

"Ah, my Prince," he continued, as though no 
thought had interrupted his greeting, " that you are 
back is sufficient, and let Hor Vastus' sword have 
the high honor of being first at thy feet." With 
these words the noble fellow unbuckled his scabbard 
and flung his sword upon the ground before me. 

Could you know the customs and the character of 
red Martians you would appreciate the depth of 
meaning that that simple act conveyed to me and to 
all about us who witnessed it. The thing was equiva- 
lent to saying, " My sword, my body, my life, my soul 



are yours to do with as you wish. Until death and 
after death I look to you alone for authority for 
my every act. Be you right or wrong, your word 
shall be my only truth. Whoso raises his hand 
against you must answer to my sword." 

It is the oath of fealty that men occasionally pay 
to a Jeddak whose high character and chivalrous acts 
have inspired the enthusiastic love of his followers. 
Never had I known this high tribute paid to a lesser 
mortal. There was but one response possible. I 
stooped and lifted the sword from the ground, raised 
the hilt to my lips, and then, stepping to Hor Vastus, 
I buckled the weapon upon him with my own hands. 

" Hor Vastus," I said, placing my hand upon his 
shoulder, "you know best the promptings of your 
own heart. That I shall need your sword I have 
little doubt, but accept from John Carter upon his 
sacred honor the assurance that he will never call 
upon you to draw this sword other than in the cause 
of truth, justice, and righteousness." 

"That I knew, my Prince," he replied, "ere ever 
I threw my beloved blade at thy feet." 

As we spoke other fliers came and went between 
the ground and the battleship, and presently a larger 
boat was launched from above, one capable of carry- 
ing a dozen persons, perhaps, and dropped lightly 
near us. A*s she touched, an officer sprang from her 
deck to #he ground, and, advancing to Hor Vastus, 


" Kantos Kan desires that this party whom we 
have rescued be brought immediately to the deck of 
the Xavarian/' he said. 

As we approached the little craft I looked about 
for the members of my party and for the first time 
noticed that Thuvia w r as not among them. Question- 
ing elicited the fact that none had seen her since 
Carthoris had sent her thoat galloping madly toward 
the hills, in the hope of carrying her out of harm's 

Immediately Hor Vastus dispatched a dozen air 
scouts in as many directions to search for her. It 
could not be possible that she had gone far since 
we had last seen her. We others stepped to the deck 
of the craft that had been sent to fetch us, and a 
moment later were upon the Xavarian. 

The first man to greet me was Kantos Kan him- 
self. My old friend had won to the highest place 
in the navy of Helium, but he was still to me the 
same brave comrade who had shared with me the 
privations of a Warhoon dungeon, the terrible atroci- 
ties of the Great Games, and later the dangers of our 
search for Dejah Thoris within the hostile city of 

Then I had been an unknown wanderer upon a' 
strange planet, and he a simple padwar in the navy 
of Helium. Today he commanded all Helium's great 
terrors of the skies, and I was a Prince of the House 
of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium. 


i ~ .. . 

He did not ask me where I had been. Like Hor 
Vastus, he too dreaded the truth and would not be 
the one to wrest a statement from me. That it must 
come some time he well knew, but until it came he 
seemed satisfied to but know that I was with him 
once more. He greeted Carthoris and Tars Tarkas 
with the keenest delight, but he asked neither where 
he had been. He could scarcely keep his hands off 
the boy. 

" You do not know, John Carter," he said to me, 
"how we of Helium love this son of yours. It is 
as though all the great love we bore his noble father 
and his poor mother had been centered in him. When 
it became known that he was lost, ten million people 

"What mean you, Kantos Kan," I whispered, 
" by * his poor mother ' ? " for the words had seemed 
to carry a sinister meaning which I could not fathom. 

He drew me to one side. 

" For a year," he said, " ever since Carthoris dis- 
appeared, Dejah Thoris has grieved and mourned 
for her lost boy. The blow of years ago, when you 
did not return from the atmosphere plant, was less- 
ened to some extent by the duties of motherhood, 
for your son broke his white shell that very night. 

" That she suffered terribly then, all Helium knew, 
for did not all Helium suffer with her the loss of 
her lord ! But with the boy gone there was nothing 
left, and after expedition upon expedition returned 


^— — — ' 

with the same hopeless tale of no clew as to his 
whereabouts, our beloved Princess drooped lower 
and lower, until all who saw her felt that it could 
be but a matter of days ere she went to join her 
loved ones within the precincts of the Valley Dor. 

"As a last resort, Mors Kajak, her father, and 
HTardos Mors, her grandfather, took command of 
two mighty expeditions, and a month ago sailed 
away to explore every inch of ground in the northern 
hemisphere of Barsoom. For two weeks no word 
has come back from them, but rumors were rife that 
they had met with a terrible disaster and that all 
were dead. 

"About this time Zat Arrras renewed his impor- 
tunities for her hand in marriage. He has been 
forever after her since you disappeared. She hated 
him and feared him, but with both her father and 
grandfather gone, Zat Arrras was very powerful, 
for he is still Jed of Zodanga, to which position, 
you will remember, Tardos Mors appointed him 
after you had refused the honor. 

" He had a secret audience with her six days ago. 
What took place none knows, but the next day Dejah 
Thoris had disappeared, and with her had gone a 
dozen of her household guard and body servants, 
including Sola the green woman — Tars Tarkas' 
daughter, you recall. No word left they of their 
intentions, but it is always thus with those who go 
upon the voluntary pilgrimage from which none 


returns. We cannot think aught than that Dejah 
Thoris has sought the icy bosom of Iss, and that her 
devoted servants have chosen to accompany her. 

" Zat Arrras was at Helium when she disappeared. 
He commands this fleet which has been searching 
i for her since. No trace of her have we found, and 
I fear that it be a futile quest." 

While we talked, Hor Vastus' fliers were return- 
ing to the Xavarian. Not one, however, had dis- 
covered a trace of Thuvia, I was much depressed 
over the news of Dejah Thoris' disappearance, and 
now there was added the further burden of appre- 
hension concerning the fate of Thuvia. I felt keen 
responsibility for the welfare of this girl whom I 
believed to be the daughter of some proud Bar- 
soomian house, and it had been my intention to make 
every effort to return her to her people. 

I was about to ask Kantos Kan to prosecute a 
further search for her when a flier from the flagship 
of the fleet arrived at the Xavarian with an officer 
bearing a message to Kantos Kan from Arrras. 

My friend read the dispatch and then turned 
to me. 

" Zat Arrras commands me to bring our ' prison- 
ers ' before him. There is naught else to do. He is 
supreme in Helium, yet it would be far more in 
keeping with chivalry and good taste were he to 
come hither and greet the savior of Barsoom with 
the honors that are his due." 


— — ■ I.. — 

"You know full well, my friend," I said, smil- 
ing, "that Zat Arras has good cause to hate me. 
Nothing would please him better than to humiliate 
me and then to kill me. Now that he has so excel- 
lent an excuse, let us go and see if he has the courage 
to take advantage of it." > 

Summoning Carthoris, Tars Tarkas, and Xodar, 
we entered the small flier with Kantos Kan and Zat 
Arrras' officer, and in a moment were stepping to 
the deck of Zat Arrras' flagship. 

As we approached the Jed of Zodanga no sign 
of greeting or recognition crossed his face; not 
even to Carthoris did he vouchsafe a friendly word. 
His attitude was cold, haughty, and uncompro- 

"Kaor, Zat Arrras," I said in greeting, but he 
did not respond. 

" Why were these prisoners not disarmed ? " he 
asked of Kantos Kan. 

" They are not prisoners, Zat Arrras," replied the 
officer. "Two of them are of Helium's noblest 
family. Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, is Tardos 
Mors' best beloved ally. The other is a friend and 
companion of the Prince of Helium — that is enough 
for me to know." 

" It is not enough for me, however," retorted Zat 
Arrras. " More must I hear from those who have 
taken the pilgrimage than their names. Where have 
you been, John Carter ? " 


"I have just come from the Valley Dor and the 
Land of the First Born, Zat Arrras," I replied. 

"Ah ! " he exclaimed in evident pleasure, " you do 
not deny it, then? You have returned from the 
bosom of Iss ? " 

"I have come back from a land of false hope, 
from a valley of torture and death; with my com- 
panions I have escaped from the hideous clutches of 
lying fiends. I have come back to the Barsoom that 
I saved from a painless death to again save her, but 
this time from death in its most frightful form." 

" Cease, blasphemer ! " cried Zat Arrras. " Hope 
not to save thy cowardly carcass by inventing horrid 

lies to " But he got no further. One does 

not call John Carter "coward" and "liar" thus 
lightly, and Zat Arrras should have known it. Be- 
fore a hand could be raised to stop me, I was at his 
side and one hand grasped his throat. 

"Come I from heaven or hell, Zat Arrras, you 
will find me still the same John Carter that I have 
always been; nor did ever man call me such names 
and live — without apologizing." And with that X 
commenced to bend him back across my knee and 
tighten my grip upon his throat. 

" Seize him ! " cried Zat Arrras, and a dozen oni- 
cers sprang forward to assist him. 

Kantos Kan came close and whispered to me. 

" Desist, I beg of you. It will but involve us all, 
for I cannot see these men lay hands upon you with- 


out aiding you. My officers and men will join me 
and we shall have a mutiny then that may lead to 
revolution. For the sake of Tardos Mors and He- 
lium, desist." 

At his words I released Zat Arrras and, turn- 
ing my back upon him, walked toward the ship's 

"Come, Kantos Kan," I said, "the Prince of 
Helium would return to the Xavarian." 

None interfered. Zat Arrras stood white and 
trembling amidst his officers. Some there were who 
looked upon him with scorn and drew toward me, 
while one, a man long in the service and confidence 
of Tardos Mors, spoke to me in a low tone as I 
passed him. 

" You may count my metal among your fighting 
men, John Carter," he said. 

I thanked him and passed on. In silence we 
embarked, and shortly after stepped once more upon 
the deck of the Xavarian. Fifteen minutes later we 
received orders from the flagship to proceed toward 

Our journey thither was uneventful. Carthoris 
and I were wrapped in the gloomiest of thoughts. 
Kantos Kan was somber in contemplation of the 
further calamity that might fall upon Helium should 
Zat Arrras attempt to follow the age-old precedent 
that allotted a terrible death to fugitives from the 
Valley Dor. Tars Tarkas grieved for the loss of;. 


his daughter. Xodar alone was carefree — a fugi- 
tive and outlaw, he could be no worse off in Helium 
than elsewhere. 

"Let us hope that we may at least go out with 
good red blood upon our blades," he said. It was a 
simple wish and one most likely to be gratified. 

Among the officers of the Xavarian I thought I 
could discern division into factions ere we had 
reached Helium. There were those who gathered 
about Carthoris and myself whenever the oppor- 
tunity presented, while about an equal number held 
aloof from us. They offered us only the most cour- 
teous treatment, but were evidently bound by their 
superstitious belief in the doctrine of Dor and Iss 
and Korus. I could not blame them, for I knew 
how strong a hold a creed, however ridiculous it 
may be, may gain upon an otherwise intelligent 

By returning from Dor we had committed a sac- 
rilege ; by recounting our adventures there, and stat- 
ing the facts as they existed we had outraged the 
religion of their fathers. We were blasphemers — 
lying heretics. Even those who still clung to us 
from personal love and loyalty I think did so in the 
face of the fact that at heart they questioned our 
veracity — it is very hard to accept a new religion 
for an old, no matter how alluring the promises 
of the new may be; but to reject the old as a tissue 
of falsehoods without being offered anything in its 


stead is indeed a most difficult thing to ask of any 

Kantos Kan would not talk of our experiences 
among the therns and the First Born. 

"It is enough/' he said, "that I jeopardize my; 
life here and hereafter by countenancing you at 
all — do not ask me to add still further to my sins 
by listening to what I have always been taught was 
the rankest heresy." 

I knew that sooner or later the time must come 
when our friends and enemies would be forced to 
declare themselves openly. When we reached Helium 
there must be an accounting, and if Tardos Mors 
had not returned I feared that the enmity of Zat 
Arrras might weigh heavily against us, for he rep- 
resented the government of Helium. To take sides 
against him were equivalent to treason. The ma- 
jority of the troops would doubtless follow the lead 
of their officers, and I knew that many of the high- 
est and most powerful men of both land and air 
forces would cleave to John Carter in the face of 
god, man, or devil. 

On the other hand, the majority of the populace 
unquestionably would demand that we pay the pen- 
alty of our sacrilege. The outlook seemed dark 
from whatever angle I viewed it, but my mind was 
so torn with anguish at the thought of Dejah Thoris 
that I realize now that I gave the terrible question 
of Helium's plight but scant attention at that time. 


— — — ^— — 

There was always before me, day and night, a 
horrible nightmare of the frightful scenes through 
which I knew my Princess might even then be pass- 
ing—the horrid plant men — the ferocious white 
apes. At times I would cover by face with my 
hands in a vain effort to shut out the fearful thing 
from my mind. 

It was in the forenoon that we arrived above 
the mile-high scarlet tower which marks greater 
Helium from her twin city. As we descended in 
great circles toward the navy docks a mighty mul- 
titude could be seen surging in the streets beneath. 
Helium had been notified by radio-aerogram of our 

From the deck of the Xavarian we four, Car- 
thoris, Tars Tarkas, Xodar, and I, were transferred 
to a lesser flier to be transported to quarters within 
the Temple of Reward. It is here that Martian jus- 
tice is meted to benefactor and malefactor. Here 
the hero is decorated. Here the felon is condemned. 
We were taken into the temple from the landing 
stage upon the roof, so that we did not pass among 
the people at all, as is customary. Always before 
I had seen prisoners of note, or returned wanderers 
of eminence, paraded from the Gate of Jeddaks 
to the Temple of Reward up the broad Avenue of 
Ancestors through dense crowds of jeering or cheer- 
ing citizens. 

I knew that Zat Arrras dared not trust the people 


near to us, for he feared that their love for Carthoris 
and myself might break into a demonstration which 
would wipe out their superstitious horror of the 
crime we were to be charged with. What his plans 
were I could only guess, but that they were sinister 
was evidenced by the fact that only his most trusted 
servitors accompanied us upon the flier to the 
Temple of Reward. 

We were lodged in a room upon the south side 
of the temple, overlooking the Avenue of Ancestors 
down which we could see the full length to the Gate 
of Jeddaks, fiwt miles away. The people in the 
temple plaza and in the streets for a distance of a 
full mile were standing as close packed as it was 
possible for them to get. They were very orderly — 
there were neither scoffs nor plaudits, and when they 
saw us at the window above them there were many 
who buried their faces in their arms and wept. 

Late in the afternoon a messenger arrived from 
Zat Arrras to inform us that we would be tried by 
an impartial body of nobles in the great hall of the 
temple at the 1st zode 1 on the following day, or 
about 8 : 40 a. m. Earth time. 

1 Wherever Captain Carter has used Martian measure- 
ments of time, distance, weight, and the like I have translated 
them into as nearly their equivalent in earthly values as is 
possible. His notes contain many Martian tables, and a great 
volume of scientific data, but since the International Astrono- 
mic Society is at present engaged in classifying, investigating, 
and verifying this vast fund of remarkable and valuable 


information, I have felt that it will add nothing to the inter- 
est of Captain Carter's story or to the sum total of human 
knowledge to maintain a strict adherence to the original manu- 
script in these matters, while it might readily confuse the 
reader and detract from the interest of the history. For those 
,who may be interested, however, I will explain that the Mar- 
tian day is a trifle over 24 hours 37 minutes duration (Earth 
time). This the Martians divide into ten equal parts, com- 
mencing the day at about 6 a. u. Earth Time. The zodes 
are divided into fifty shorter periods, each of which in turn 
is composed of 200 brief periods of time, about equivalent 
to the earthly second. The Barsoomian Table of Time as 
here given is but a part of the full table appearing in Captain 
Carter's notes. 


200 tals 1 xat 

50 xats 1 zode 

10 zodes 1 revolution of Mars upon its axis. 



A FEW moments before the appointed time on 
the following morning a strong guard of Zat 
Arrras' officers appeared at our quarters to conduct 
us to the great hall of the temple. 

In twos we entered the chamber and marched 
down the broad Aisle of Hope, as it is called, to the 
platform in the center of the hall. Before and be- 
hind us marched armed guards, while three solid 
ranks of Zodangan soldiery lined either side of the 
aisle from the entrance to the rostrum. 

As we reached the raised enclosure I saw our 
judges. As is the custom upon Barsoom there were 
thirty-one, supposedly selected by lot from men of 
the noble class, for nobles were on trial. But to my 
amazement I saw no single friendly face among 
them. Practically all were Zodangans, and it was 
I to whom Zodanga owed her defeat at the hands 
of the green hordes and her subsequent vassalage 
to Helium. There could be little justice here for 
John Carter, or his son, or for the great Thark who 
had commanded the savage tribesmen who overran 
Zodanga's broad avenues, looting, burning, and 



About us the vast circular coliseum was packed 
to its full capacity. All classes were represented — 
all ages, and both sexes. As we entered the hall the 
hum of subdued conversation ceased until as we 
halted upon the platform, or Throne of Righteous- 
ness, the silence of death enveloped the ten thousand 

The judges were seated in a great circle about 
the periphery of the circular platform. We were 
assigned seats with our backs toward a small plat- 
form in the exact center of the larger one. This 
placed us facing the judges and the audience. Upon 
the smaller platform each would take his place while 
his case was being heard. 

Zat Arrras himself sat in the golden chair of the 
presiding magistrate. As we were seated and our 
guards retired to the foot of the stairway leading 
to the platform, he arose and called my name. 

"John Carter," he cried, ''take your place upon 
the Pedestal of Truth to be judged impartially ac- 
cording to your acts and here to know the reward 
you have earned thereby. " Then turning to and 
fro toward the audience he narrated the acts 
upon the value of which my reward was to be deter- 

"Know you, O judges and people of Helium," 
he said, "that John Carter, one time Prince of 
Helium, has returned by his own statement from 
the Valley Dor and even from the Temple of Issus 


itself. That, in the presence of many men of 
Helium he has blasphemed against the Sacred Iss, and 
against the Valley Dor, and the Lost Sea of Korus, 
and the Holy Therns themselves, and even against 
Issus, Goddess of Death, and of Life Eternal. 
And know you further by witness of thine own eyes 
that see him here now upon the Pedestal of Truth 
that he has indeed returned from these sacred pre- 
cincts in the face of our ancient customs, and in vio- 
lation of the sanctity of our ancient religion. 

" He who be once dead may not live again. He 
who attempts it must be made dead forever. Judges, 
your duty lies plain before you — there can be no 
testimony in contravention of truth. What reward 
shall be meted to John Carter in accordance with 
the acts he has committed ?" 

" Death ! M shouted one of the judges. 

And then a man sprang to his feet in the audience, 
and raising his hand on high, cried: "Justice! Jus- 
tice ! Justice ! " It was Kantos Kan, and as all eyes 
turned toward him he leaped past the Zodangan sol- 
diery and sprang upon the platform. 

"What manner of justice be this?" he cried to 
Zat Arrras. "The defendant has not been heard, 
nor has he had an opportunity to call others in his v 
behalf. In the name of the people of Helium I 
demand fair and impartial treatment for the Prince 
of Helium." 

A great cry arose from the audience then : " Jus- 


tice ! Justice ! Justice ! " And Zat Arrras dared not 
deny them. 

"Speak, then/' he snarled, turning to me; "but 
blaspheme not against the things that are sacred 
upon Barsoom." 

"Men of Helium," I cried, turning to the spec- 
tators, and speaking over the heads of my judges, 
" How can John Carter expect justice from the men 
of Zodanga? He cannot nor does he ask it. It is 
to the men of Helium that he states his case; nor 
does he appeal for mercy to any. It is not in his 
own cause that he speaks now — it is in thine. In 
the cause of your wives and daughters, and of wives 
and daughters yet unborn. It is to save them from 
the unthinkably atrocious indignities that I have seen 
heaped upon the fair women of Barsoom in the place 
men call the Temple of Issus. It is to save them 
from the sucking embrace of the plant men, from 
the fangs of the great white apes of Dor, from the 
cruel lust of the Holy Therns, from all that the cold, 
dead Iss carries them to from homes of love and 
life and happiness. 

" Sits there no man here who does not know the 
history of John Carter. How he came among yoii 
from another world and rose from a prisoner among 
the green men, through torture and persecution, to 
a place high among the highest of Barsoom. Nor 
ever did you know John Carter to lie in his own 
behalf, or to say aught that might harm the people 


— — — — . 

of Barsoom, or to speak lightly of the strange relig- 
ion which he respected without understanding. 

"There be no man here, or elsewhere upon Bar- 
soom today who does not owe his life directly to a 
single act of mine, in which I sacrificed myself and 
the happiness of my Princess that you might live. 
And so, men of Helium, I think that I have the right 
to demand that I be heard, that I be believed, and 
that you let me serve you and save you from the 
false hereafter of Dor and Issus as I saved you from 
the real death that other day. 

" It is to you of Helium that I speak now. When 
I am done let the men of Zodanga have their will 
with me. Zat Arrras has taken my sword from me, 
so the men of Zodanga no longer fear me. Will you 

" Sp.:ak, John Carter, Prince of Helium," cried 
a great noble from the audience, and the multitude 
echoed his permission, until the building rocked with 
the noise of their demonstration. 

Zat Arrras knew better than to interfere with 
such a sentiment as was expressed that day in the 
Temple of Reward, and so for two hours I talked 
with the people of Helium. 

But when I had finished, Zat Arrras arose and, 
turning to the judges, said in a low tone : " My 
nobles, you have heard John Carter's plea; every 
opportunity has been given him to prove his inno- 
cence if he be not guilty; but instead he has but 


■ ■ - 

utilized the time in further blasphemy. What, gen- 
tlemen, is your verdict ?" 

" Death to the blasphemer ! " cried one, springing 
to his feet, and in an instant the entire thirty-one 
judges were on their feet with upraised swords in 
token of the unanimity of their verdict. 

If the people did not hear Zat Arrras' charge, 
they certainly did hear the verdict of the tribunal. 
A sullen murmur rose louder and louder above the 
packed coliseum, and then Kantos Kan, who had 
not left the platform since first he had taken his place 
near me, raised his hand for silence. When he could 
be heard he spoke to the people in a cool and level 

"You have heard the fate that the men of Zo- 
danga would mete to Helium's noblest hero. It may 
be the duty of the men of Helium to acctpt the 
verdict as final. Let each man act according to his 
own heart. Here is the answer of Kantos Kan, 
head of the navy of Helium, to Zat Arrras and his 
judges,' , and with that he unbuckled his scabbard 
and threw his sword at my feet. 

In an instant soldiers and citizens, officers and 
nobles were crowding past the soldiers of Zodanga 
and forcing their way to the Throne of Righteous- 
ness. A hundred men surged upon the platform, 
and a hundred blades rattled and clanked to the floor 
at my feet. Zat Arrras and his officers were furious, 
but they were helpless. One by one I raised the 


swords to my lips and buckled them again upon 
their owners. 

" Come," said Kantos Kan, " we will escort John 
Carter and his party to his own palace," and they 
formed about us and started toward the stairs lead- 
ing to the Aisle of Hope. 

" Stop ! " cried Zat Arrras. " Soldiers of Helium, 
let no prisoner leave the Throne of Righteous- 


The soldiery from Zodanga were the only organ- 
ized body of Heliumetic troops within the temple, so 
Zat Arrras was confident that his orders would be 
obeyed, but I do not think that he looked for the 
opposition that was raised the moment the soldiers 
advanced toward the throne. 

From every quarter of the coliseum swords 
flashed and men rushed threateningly upon the Zo- 
dangans. Someone raised a cry : " Tardos Mors is 
dead — a thousand years to John Carter, Jeddak of 
Helium." As I heard that and saw the ugly attitude 
of the men of Helium toward the soldiers of Zat 
Arrras, I knew that only a miracle could avert a 
clash that would end in civil war. 

" Hold ! " I cried, leaping to the Pedestal of Truth 
once more. " Let no man move till I am done. A 
single sword thrust here today may plunge Helium 
into a bitter and bloody war the results of which 
none can foresee. It will turn brother against 
brother and father against son. No man's life is> 


worth that sacrifice. Rather would I submit to the 
biased judgment of Zat Arrras than be the cause 
of civil strife in Helium. 

" Let us each give in a point to the other, and let 
this entire matter rest until Tardos Mors returns, 
or Mors Kajak, his son. If neither be back at the 
end of a year a second trial may be held — the 
thing has a precedent." And then turning to Zat 
Arrras, I said in a low voice : " Unless you be a big- 
ger fool than I take you to be, you will grasp the 
chance I am offering you ere it is too late. Once 
that multitude of swords below is drawn against 
your soldiery no man upon Barsoom — not even 
Tardos Mors himself — can avert the consequences. 
What say you? Speak quickly." 

The Jed of Zodangan Helium raised his voice 
to the angry sea beneath us. 

" Stay your hands, men of Helium," he shouted, 
his voice trembling with rage. "The sentence of 
the court is passed, but the day of retribution has 
not been set. I, Zat Arrras, Jed of Zodanga, appre- 
ciating the royal connections of the prisoner and his 
past services to Helium and Barsoom, grant a respite 
of one year, or until the return of Mors Kajak, or 
Tardos Mors to Helium. Disperse quietly to your 
houses. Go." 

No one moved. Instead, they stood in tense 
silence with their eyes fastened upon me, as though 
waiting for a signal to attack. 


M Qear the temple/' commanded Zat Arrras, in* 
a low tone to one of his officers. 

Fearing the result of an attempt to carry out this 
order by force, I stepped to the edge of the platform 
and, pointing toward the main entrance, bid them 
pass out. As one man they turned at my request 
and filed, silent and threatening, past the soldiers 
of Zat Arrras, Jed of Zodanga, who stood scowling 
in impotent rage. 

Kantos Kan with the others who had sworn alle- 
giance to me still stood upon the Throne of Right- 
eousness with me. 

" Come," said Kantos Kan, to me, " we will escort 
you to your palace, my Prince. Come, Carthoris and 
Xodar. Come, Tars Tarkas." And with a haughty 
sneer for Zat Arrras upon his handsome lips, he 
turned and strode to the throne steps and up the 
Aisle of Hope. We four and the hundred loyal ones 
followed behind him, nor was a hand raised to stay 
us, though glowering eyes followed our triumphal 
march through the temple. 

In the avenues we found a press of people, but 
they opened a pathway for us, and many were the 
swords that were flung at my feet as I passed through 
the city of Helium toward my palace upon the out- 
skirts. Here my old slaves fell upon their knees 
and kissed my hands as I greeted them. They cared 
not where I had been. It was enough that I had 
returned to them. 


*■ — — ^._ 

"Ah, master," cried one, " if our divine Princess 
were but here this would be a day indeed." 

Tears came to my eyes, so that I was forced to 
turn away that I might hide my emotions. Car- 
thoris wept openly as the slaves pressed about him 
with expressions of affection, and words of sorrow 
for our common loss. It was now that Tars Tarkas 
for the first time learned that his daughter, Sola v 
had accompanied Dejah Thoris upon the last long 
pilgrimage. I had not had the heart to tell him 
what Kantos Kan had told me. With the stoicism 
of the green Martian he showed no sign of suffer- 
ing, yet I knew that his grief was as poignant as 
my own. In marked contrast to his kind, he had in 
well-developed form the kindlier human character- 
istics of love, friendship, and charity. 

It was a sad and somber party that sat at the 
feast of welcome in the great dining hall of the 
palace of the Prince of Helium that day. We were 
over a hundred strong, not counting the members 
of my little court, for Dejah Thoris and I had main- 
tained a household consistent with our royal rank. 

The board, according to red Martian custom, was 
triangular, for there were three in our family. Car- 
thoris and I presided in the center of our sides of the 
table — midway of the third side Dejah Thoris' 
high-backed, carven chair stood vacant except for 
her gorgeous wedding trappings and jewels which 
were draped upon it. Behind stood a slave as in the 


■ ' — "" ■ 

days when his mistress had occupied her place at 
the board, ready to do her bidding. It was the way 
upon Barsoom, so I endured the anguish of it, 
though it wrung my heart to see that silent chair 
'where should have been my laughing and vivacious 
Princess keeping the great hall ringing with her 
merry gaiety. 

At my right sat Kantos Kan, while to the right 
of Dejah Thoris' empty place Tars Tarkas sat in a 
huge chair before a raised section of the board which 
years ago I had had constructed to meet the require- 
ments of his mighty bulk. The place of honor at 
a Martian board is always at the hostess' right, and 
this place was ever reserved by Dejah Thoris for 
the great Thark upon the occasions that he was in 

Hor Vastus sat in the seat of honor upon Car- 
thoris' side of the table. There was little general 
conversation. It was a quiet and saddened party „ 
The loss of Dejah Thoris was still fresh in the 
minds of all, and to this was added fear for the 
safety of Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak, as well as 
doubt and uncertainty as to the fate of Helium, 
should it prove true that she was permanently de- 
prived of her great Jeddak. 

Suddenly our attention was attracted by the sound 
of distant shouting, as of many people raising their 
voices at once, but whether in anger or rejoicing, 
we could not tell. Nearer and nearer came the tu- 


p .. ■ 

mult. A slave rushed into the dining hall to cry that 
a great concourse of people was swarming through 
the palace gates. A second burst upon the heels of 
the first alternately laughing and shrieking as a 
mad man. 

"Dejah Thoris is found ! " he cried. "A mes-, 
senger from Dejah Thoris!" 

I waited to hear no more. The great windows of 
the dining hall overlooked the avenue leading to 
the main gates — they were upon the opposite side 
of the hall from me with the table intervening. I did 
not waste time in circling the great board — with a 
single leap I cleared table and diners and sprang 
upon the balcony beyond. Thirty feet below lay 
the scarlet sward of the lawn and beyond were many 
people crowding about a great thoat which bore a 
rider headed toward the palace. I vaulted to the 
ground below and ran swiftly toward the advancing 

As I came near to them I saw that the figure on 
the thoat was Sola. 

"Where is the Princess of Helium?" I cried. 

The green girl slid from her mighty mount and 
ran toward me. 

" O my Prince ! My Prince ! " she cried. " She 
is gone forever. Even now she may be a captive 
upon the lesser moon. The black pirates of Bar- 
soom have stolen her." 

sola's story 

ONCE within the palace, I drew Sola to the din-* 
ing hall, and, when she had greeted her father 
after the formal manner of the green men, she told 
the story of the pilgrimage and capture of Dejah 

" Seven days ago, after her audience with Zat 
Arrras, Dejah Thoris attempted to slip from the 
palace in the dead o r night. Although I had not 
heard the outcome of her interview with Zat Arrras 
I knew that something had occurred then to cause 
her the keenest mental agony, and when I discovered 
her creeping from the palace I did not need to be 
told her destination. 

" Nastily arousing a dozen of her most faithful 
guards, I explained my fears to them, and as one 
they enlisted with me to follow our beloved Princess 
in her wanderings, even to the Sacred Iss and the 
Valley Dor. We came upon her but a short distance 
from the palace. With her was faithful Woola 
the hound, but none other. When we overtook her 
she feigned anger, and ordered us back to the pal- 
ace, but for once we disobeyed her, and when she 
found that we would not let her go upon the last 



long pilgrimage alone, she wept and embraced us, 
and together we went out into the night toward 
the south. 

" The following day we came upon a herd of small 
thoats* and thereafter we were mounted and made 
good time. We traveled very fast and very far due 
south until the morning of the fifth day we sighted 
a great fleet of battleships sailing north. They saw 
us before we could seek shelter, and soon we were 
surrounded by a horde of black men. The Princess* 
guard fought nobly to the end, but they were soon 
overcome and slain. Only Dejah Thoris and I were 

" When she realized that she was in the clutches of 
the black pirates, she attempted to take her own 
life, but one of the blacks tore her dagger from her, 
and then they bound us both so that we could not use 
our hands. 

"The fleet continued north after capturing us. 
There were about twenty large battleships in all, 
besides a number of small swift cruisers. That eve- 
ning one of the smaller cruisers that had been far in 
advance of the fleet returned with a prisoner — a 
young red woman whom they had picked up in a 
range of hills under the very noses, they said, of a 
fleet of three red Martian battleships. 

"From scraps of conversation which we over- 
heard it was evident that the black pirates were 
searching for a party of fugitives that had escaped 


them several days prior. That they considered the 
capture of the young woman important was evi- 
dent from the long and earnest interview the com* 
mander of the fleet held with her when she was 
brought to him. Later she was bound and placed 
in the compartment with Dejah Thoris and myself. 

" The new captive was a very beautiful girl. She 
told Dejah Thoris that many years ago she had 
taken the voluntary pilgrimage from the court of 
her father, the Jeddak of Ptarth. She was Thuvia, 
the Princess of Ptarth. And then she asked Dejah 
Thoris whom she might be, and when she heard 
she fell upon her knees and kissed Dejah Thoris' 
fettered hands, and told her that that very morning 
she had been with John Carter, Prince of Helium, 
and Carthoris, her son. 

" Dejah Thoris could not believe her at first, but 
finally when the girl had narrated all the strange 
adventures that had befallen her since she had met 
John Carter, and told her of the things John Carter, 
and Carthoris, and Xodar had narrated of their 
adventures in the Land of the First Born, Dejah 
Thoris knew that it could be none other than the 
Prince of Helium; 'For whom/ she said, 'upon all 
Barsoom other than John Carter could have done 
the deeds you tell of/ And when Thuvia told Dejah 
Thoris of her love for John Carter, and his loyalty 
and devotion to the Princess of his choice, Dejah 
Thoris broke down and wept — cursing Zat Arrras 


and the cruel fate that had driven her from Helium 
but a few brief days before the return of her beloved 

"'I do not blame you for loving him, Thuvia/ 
she said; 'and that your affection for him is pure 
and sincere I can well believe from the candor of 
your avowal of it to me.' 

" The fleet continued north nearly to Helium, but 
last night they evidently realized that John Carter 
had indeed escaped them and so they turned toward 
the south once more. Shortly thereafter a guard 
entered our compartment and dragged me to the 

"'There is no place in the Land of the First 
Born for a green one/ he said, and with that he gave 
me a terrific shove that carried me toppling from the 
deck of the battleship. Evidently this seemed to him 
the easiest way of ridding the vessel of my presence 
and killing me at the same time. 

"But a kind Fate intervened, and by a miracle 
I escaped with but slight bruises. The ship was 
moving slowly at the time, and as I lunged over- 
board into the darkness beneath I shuddered at the 
awful plunge I thought awaited me, for all day the 
fleet had sailed thousands of feet above the ground ; 
but to my utter surprise I struck upon a soft mass 
of vegetation not twenty feet from the deck of the 
ship. In fact, the keel of the vessel must have been 
grazing the surface of the ground at the time. 


" I lay all night where I had fallen and the next 
morning brought an explanation of the fortunate 
coincidence that had saved me from a terrible death. 
As the sun rose I saw a vast panorama of sea bot- 
tom and distant hills lying far below me. I was 
upon the highest peak of a lofty range. The fleet 
in the darkness of the preceding night had barely 
grazed the crest of the hills, and in the brief span 
that they hovered close to the surface the black 
guard had pitched me, as he supposed, to my death. 

"A few miles west of me was a great waterway. 
When I reached it I found to my delight that it be- 
longed to Helium. Here a thoat was procured for 
me — the rest you know." 

For many minutes none spoke. Dejah Thoris in 
the clutches of the First Born ! I shuddered at the 
thought, but of a sudden the old fire of unconquer- 
able self-confidence surged through me. I sprang 
to my feet, and with back-thrown shoulders and 
upraised sword took a solemn vow to reach, rescue, 
and revenge my Princess. 

A hundred swords leaped from a hundred scab- 
bards, and a hundred fighting men sprang to the 
table-top and pledged me their lives and fortunes 
to the expedition. Already my plans were formu- 
lated. I thanked each loyal friend, and leaving 
Carthoris to entertain them, withdrew to my own 
audience chamber with Kantos Kan, Tars Tarkas, 
Xodar, and Hor Vastus. 


Here we discussed the details of our expedition 
until long after dark. Xodar was positive that 
Issus would choose both Dejah Thoris and Thuvia 
to serve her for a year. 

" For that length of time at least they will be com- 
paratively safe," he said, "and we will at least 
know where to look for them." 

In the matter of equipping a fleet to enter Omean 
the details were left to Kantos Kan and Xodar. 
The former agreed to take such vessels as we re- 
quired into dock as rapidly as possible, where Xodar 
would direct their equipment with water propellers. 

For many years the black had been in charge of 
the refitting of captured battleships that they might 
navigate Omean, and so was familiar with the con- 
struction of the propellers, housings, and the auxil- 
iary gearing required. 

It was estimated that it would require six months 
to complete our preparations in view of the fact 
that the utmost secrecy must be maintained to keep 
the project from the ears of Zat Arrras. Kantos 
Kan was confident now that the man's ambitions 
were fully aroused and that nothing short of the 
title of Jeddak of Helium would satisfy him. 

"I doubt," he said, "if he would even welcome 
Dejah Thoris' return, for it would mean another 
nearer the throne than he. With you and Carthoris 
out of the way there would be little to prevent him 
from assuming the title of Jeddak, and you may rest 


assured that so long as he is supreme here there 
is no safety for either of you." 

" There is a way," cried Hor Vastus, " to thwart 
him effectually and forever." 

"What?" I asked. 

He smiled. 

" I shall whisper it here, but some day I shall stand 
upon the dome of the Temple of Reward and shout 
it to cheering multitudes below." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Kantos Kan. 

"John Carter, Jeddak of Helium," said Hor 
Vastus in a low voice. 

The eyes of my companions lighted, and grim 
smiles of pleasure and anticipation overspread their 
(faces, as each eye turned toward me questioningly. 
But I shook my head. 

" No, my friends," I said, smiling, " I thank you, 
but it cannot be. Not yet, at least. When we know 
that Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak are gone to 
return no more; if I be here, then I shall join you 
all to see that the people of Helium are permitted 
to choose fairly their next Jeddak. Whom they 
choose may count upon the loyalty of my sword, nor 
shall I seek the honor for myself. Until then Tardos 
Mors is Jeddak of Helium, and Zat Arrras is his 

"As you will, John Carter," said Hor Vastus, 
"but What was that?" he whispered, point- 
ing toward the window overlooking the gardens. 


The words were scarce out of his mouth ere he 
had sprung to the balcony without. 

" There he goes ! " he cried excitedly. " The 
guards ! Below there ! The guards ! " 

We were close behind him, and all saw the figure 
of a man run quickly across a little piece of sward 
and disappear in the shrubbery beyond. 

"He was on the balcony when I first saw him," 
cried Hor Vastus. " Quick ! Let us follow him ! " 

Together we ran to the gardens, but even though 
we scoured the grounds with the entire guard for 
hours, no trace could we find of the night marauder. 

"What do you make of it, Kantos Kan?" asked 
Tars Tarkas. 

"A spy sent by Zat Arrras,'' he replied. "It was 
ever his way." 

"He will have something interesting to report 
to his master then," laughed Hor Vastus. 

" I hope he heard only our references to a new 
Jeddak," I said. " If he overheard our plans to res- 
cue Dejah Thoris, it will mean civil war, for he will 
attempt to thwart us, and in that I will not be 
thwarted. There would I turn against Tardos Mors 
himself, were it necessary. If it throws all Heliunt 
into a bloody conflict, I shall go on with these plans 
to save my Princess. Nothing shall stay me now 
short of death, and should I die, my friends, will 
you take oath to prosecute the search for her and 
bring her back in safety to her grandfather's court ? " 


Upon the hilt of his sword each of them swore 
to do as I had asked. 

It was agreed that the battleships that were to be 
remodeled should be ordered to Hastor, another 
Heliumetic city, far to the southwest. Kantos Kan 
thought that the docks there, in addition to their 
regular work, would accommodate at least six bat- 
tleships at a time. As he was commander in chief 
of the navy, it would be a simple matter for him 
to order the vessels there as they could be handled, 
and thereafter keep the remodeled fleet in remote 
parts of the empire until we should be ready to 
assemble it for the dash upon Omean. 

It was late that night before our conference broke 
up, but each man there had his particular duties 
outlined, and the details of the entire plan had been 
mapped out. 

Kantos Kan and Xodar were to attend to the re 
modeling of the ships. Tars Tarkas was to get inter 
communication with Thark and learn the sentiments 
of his people toward his return from Dor. If favor- 
able, he was to repair immediately to Thark and 
devote his time to the assembling of a great horde 
of green warriors whom it was our plan to send in 
transports directly to the Valley Dor and the Temple 
of Issus, while the fleet entered Omean and de- 
stroyed the vessels of the First Born. 

Upon Hor Vastus devolved the delicate mission 
of organizing a secret force of fighting men sworn 


to follow John Carter wherever he might lead. As 
we estimated that it would require over a million 
men to man the thousand great battleships we in- 
tended to use on Omean and the transports for the 
green men as well as the ships that were to convoy 
the transports, it was no trifling job that Hor Vastus 
had before him. 

After they had left I bid Carthoris good night, for 
I was very tired, and, going to my own apartments, 
bathed and lay down upon my sleeping silks and 
furs for the first good night's sleep I had had an 
opportunity to look forward to since I had returned 
to Barsoom. But even now I was to be disappointed. 

How long I slept I do not know. When I awoke 
suddenly it was to find a half dozen powerful men 
upon me, a gag already in my mouth, and a moment 
later my arms and legs securely bound. So quickly 
had they worked and to such good purpose, that I 
was utterly beyond the power to resist them by the 
time I was fully awake. 

Never a word spoke they, and the gag effectually 
prevented me speaking. Silently they lifted me and 
bore me toward the door of my chamber. As they 
passed the window through which the farther moon 
was casting its brilliant beams, I saw that each of 
the party had his face swathed in layers of silk — I 
could not recognize one of them. 

When they had come into the corridor with me, 
they turned toward a secret panel in the wall which 


led to the passage that terminated in the pits be- 
neath the palace. That any knew of this panel out- 
side my own household, I was doubtful. Yet the 
leader of the band did not hesitate a moment. He 
stepped directly to the panel, touched the concealed 
button, and as the door swung open he stood aside 
while his companions entered with me. Then he 
closed the panel behind him and followed us. 

Down through the passageways to the pits we 
went. Along winding corridors that I myself had 
never explored. On and on until I felt confident 
that we were far beyond the confines of the palace 
grounds, and then the way led upward again toward 
the surface. 

Presently the party halted before a blank wall. 
The leader rapped upon it with the hilt of his sword 
— three quick, sharp blows, a pause, then three 
more, another pause, and then two. A second later 
the wall swung in, and I was pushed within a bril- 
liantly lighted chamber in which sat three richly 
trapped men. 

One of them turned toward me with a sardonic 
smile upon his thin, cruel lips — it was Zat Arrras. 



«« A H," SAID Zat Arrras, "to what kindly cir- 

J~\. cumstance am I indebted for the pleasure of 
this unexpected visit from the Prince of Helium ?" 

While he was speaking, one of my guards had 
removed the gag from my mouth, but I made no 
reply to Zat Arrras ; simply standing there in silence 
with level gaze fixed upon the Jed of Zodanga, And 
I doubt not that my expression was colored by the 
contempt I felt for the man. 

The eyes of those within the chamber were fixed 
first upon me and then upon Zat Arrras, until finally 
a flush of anger crept slowly over his face. 

" You may go," he said to those who had brought 
me, and when only his two companions and our- 
selves were left in the chamber, he spoke to me again 
in a voice of ice — very slowly and deliberately, with 
many pauses, as though he would choose his words 

"John Carter," he said, "by the edict of custom, 
by the law of our religion, and by the verdict of an 
impartial court, you are condemned to die. The 
people cannot save you — I alone may accomplish 
that. You are absolutely in my power to do with as 



I wish — I may kill you, or I may free you, and 
should I elect to kill you, none would be the wiser. 

" Should you go free in Helium for a year, in 
accordance with the conditions of your reprieve, 
there is little fear that the people would ever insist 
upon the execution of the sentence imposed upon 

" You may go free within two minutes, upon one 
condition. Tardos Mors will never return to Helium. 
Neither will Mors Kajak, or Dejah Thoris. Helium 
must select a new Jeddak within the year. Zat 
(Arrras would be Jeddak of Helium. Say that you 
will espouse my cause. This is the price of your 
freedom. I am done." 

I knew it was within the scope of Zat Arrras' 
cruel heart to destroy me, and if I were dead I could 
see little reason to doubt that he might easily become 
Jeddak of Helium. Free, I could prosecute the 
search for Dejah Thoris. Were I dead, my brave 
comrades might not be able to carry out our plans. 
So, by refusing to accede to his request, it was quite 
probable that not only would I not prevent him from 
becoming Jeddak of Helium, but that I would be the 
means of sealing Dejah Thoris' fate — of consigning 
her, through my refusal, to the horrors of the arena 
of Issus. 

For a moment I was perplexed, but for a moment 
only. The proud daughter of a thousand Jeddaks 
would choose death to a dishonorable alliance such 


as this, nor could John Carter do less for Helium 
than his Princess would do. 

Then I turned to Zat Arrras. 

"There can be no alliance," I said, "between a 
traitor to Helium and a Prince of the House of 
Tardos Mors. I do not believe, Zat Arrras, that the 
great Jeddak is dead." 

Zat Arrras shrugged his shoulders. 

" It will not be long, John Carter," he said, " that 
your opinions will be of interest even to yourself, 
so make the best of them while you can. Zat Arrras 
will permit you in due time to reflect further upon 
the magnanimous offer he has made you. Into the 
silence and darkness of the pits you will enter upon 
your reflection this night with the knowledge that 
should you fail within a reasonable time to agree 
to the alternative which has been offered you, never 
shall you emerge from the darkness and the silence 
again. Nor shall you know at what minute the 
hand will reach out through the darkness and the 
silence with the keen dagger that shall rob you of 
your last chance to win again the warmth and the 
freedom and joyousness of the outer world." 

Zat Arrras clapped his hands as he ceased speak- 
ing. The guards returned. 

Zat Arrras waved his hand in my direction. 

" To the pits," he said. That was all. Four men 
accompanied me from the chamber, and with a 
radium hand-light to illumine the way, escorted me 


through seemingly interminable tunnels, down, ever 
down beneath the city of Helium. 

At length they halted within a fair-sized chamber. 
There were rings set in the rocky walls. To them 
chains were fastened, and at the ends of many of 
1 the chains were human skeletons. One of these 
they kicked aside, and, unlocking the huge padlock 
that had held a chain about what had once been a 
human ankle, they snapped the iron band about my 
own leg. Then they left me, taking the light with 

Utter darkness prevailed. For a few minutes I 
could hear the clanking of accouterments, but even 
this grew fainter and fainter, until at last the silence 
was as complete as the darkness. I was alone with 
my gruesome companions — with the bones of dead 
men whose fate was likely but the index of my own. 

How long I stood listening in the darkness I do 
not know, but the silence was unbroken, and at last 
I sunk to the hard floor of my prison, where, leaning 
my head against the stony wall, I slept. 

It must have been several hours later that I awak- 
ened to find a young man standing before me. In 
one hand he bore a light, in the other a receptacle 
containing a gruel-like mixture — the common prison 
fare of Barsoom. 

" Zat Arrras sends you greetings," said the young 
man, " and commands me to inform you that though 
he is fully advised of the plot to make you Jeddak 


of Helium, he is, however, not inclined to withdraw 
the offer which he has made you. To gain your 
freedom you have but to request me to advise Zat 
Arrras that you accept the terms of his proposition." 

I but shook my head. The youth said no more, 
and, after placing the food upon the floor at my side, 
returned up the corridor, taking the light with him. 

Twice a day for many days this youth came to 
my cell with food, and ever the same greetings from 
Zat Arrras. For a long time I tried to engage him 
in conversation upon other matters, but he would 
not talk, and so, at length, I desisted. 

For months I sought to devise methods to inform 
Carthoris of my whereabouts. For months I scraped 
and scraped upon a single link of the massive chain 
which held me, hoping eventually to wear it through, 
that I might follow the youth back through the wind- 
ing tunnels to a point where I could make a break for 

I was beside myself with anxiety for knowledge 
of the progress of the expedition which was to rescue 
Dejah Thoris. I felt that Carthoris would not let 
the matter drop, were he free to act, but insofar as 
I knew, he also might be a prisoner in Zat Arrras' 

That Zat Arrras' spy had overheard our conver- 
sation relative to the selection of a new Jeddak, I 
knew, and scarcely a half dozen minutes prior we 
had discussed the details of the plan to rescue Dejah 


Thoris. The chances were that that matter, too, was 
well known to him. Carthoris, Kantos Kan, Tars 
Tarkas, Hor Vastus, and Xodar might even now be 
the victims of Zat Arms' assassins, or else his 

I determined to make at least one more effort to 
learn something, and tc this end I adopted strategy 
when next the youth came to my cell I had noticed 
that he was a handsome fellow, about the size and 
age of Carthoris. And J had also noticed that his 
shabby trappings but illy comported with his dig- 
nified and noble bearing. 

It was with these observations as a basis that I 
opened my negotiations, with him upon his next 
subsequent visit. 

"You have been very kind to me during my 
imprisonment here," I said to him, " and as I feel 
that I have at best but a very short time to live, I 
wish, ere it is too late, to furnish substantial testi- 
mony of my appreciation of all that you have done 
to render my imprisonment bearable. 

" Promptly you have brought my food each day, 
seeing that it was pure and of sufficient quantity. 
Never by word or deed have you attempted to take 
advantage of my defenseless condition to insult or 
torture me. You have been uniformly courteous and 
considerate — it is this more than any other thing 
which prompts my feeling of gratitude and my 
desire to give you some slight token of it. 


" In the guard room of my palace are many fine 
trappings. Go thou there and select the harness 
which most pleases you — it shall be yours. All I 
ask is that you wear it, that I may know that my 
wish has been realized. Tell me that you will do it." 

The boy's eyes had lighted with pleasure as 1 
spoke, and I saw him glance from his rusty trap- 
pings to the magnificence of my own. For a moment 
he stood in thought before he spoke, and for that 
moment my heart fairly ceased beating — so much 
for me there was which hung upon the substance of 
his answer. 

"And I went to the palace of the Prince of Helium 
with any such demand, they would laugh at me and, 
into the bargain, would more than likely throw me 
headforemost into the avenue. No, it cannot be, 
though I thank you for the offer. Why, if Zat 
Arrras even dreamed that I contemplated such a 
thing he would have my heart cut out of me." 

" There can be no harm in it, my boy," I urged. 
" By night you may go to my palace with a note from 
me to Carthoris, my son. You may read the note 
before you deliver it, that you may know that it 
contains nothing harmful to Zat Arrras. My son 
will be discreet, and so none but us three need know. 
It is very simple, and such a harmless act that it 
could be condemned by no one." 

Again he stood silently in deep thought. 

"And there is a jeweled short-sword which I took 


a— — ' 

from the body of a northern Jeddak. When you get 
the harness, see that Carthoris gives you that also. 
With it and the harness which you may select there 
will be no more handsomely accoutered warrior in 
all Zodanga. 

" Bring writing materials when you come next to 
my cell, and within a few hours we shall see you 
garbed in a style befitting your birth and carriage." 

Still in thought, and without speaking, he turned 
and left me. I could not guess what his decision 
might be, and for hours I sat fretting over the out- 
come of the matter. 

If he accepted a message to Carthoris it would 
mean to me that Carthoris still lived and was free. 
If the youth returned wearing the harness and the 
sword, I would know that Carthoris had received 
my note and that he knew that I still lived. That 
the bearer of the note was a Zodangan would be 
sufficient to explain to Carthoris that I was a prisoner 
of Zat Arrras. 

It was with feelings of excited expectancy which 
I could scarce hide that I heard the youth's approach 
upon the occasion of his next regular visit. I did 
not speak beyond my accustomed greeting of him. 
f As he placed the food upon the floor by my side he 
also deposited writing material at the same time. 

My heart fairly bounded for joy. I had won 
my point. For a moment I looked at the materials 
in feigned surprise, but soon I permitted an exores- 


^. .— ■■■...■■■I II — MM ■ I ■ !■■■ I ■■ ■ ■ I ■ !■■ I ■ ■ ■ ■ !-■■■ ■■■■ I ■ — ■ ■ II I ^^^— ——■—>— W^WP 

sion of dawning comprehension to come into my 
face, and then, picking them up, I penned a brief 
order to Carthoris to deliver to Parthak a harness of 
his selection and the short-sword which I described. 
That was all. But it meant everything to me and 
to Carthoris. 

I laid the note open upon the floor. Parthak 
picked it up and, without a word, left me. 

As nearly as I could estimate, I had at this time 
been in the pits for three hundred days. If any- 
thing was to be done to save Dejah Thoris it must 
be done quickly, for, were she not already dead, her 
end must soon come, since those whom Issus chose 
lived but a single year. 

The next time I heard approaching footsteps I 
could scarce await to see if Parthak wore the har- 
ness and the sword, but judge, if you can, my 
chagrin and disappointment when I saw that he who 
bore my food was not Parthak. 

" What has become of Parthak? " I asked, but the 
fellow would not answer, and as soon as he had 
deposited my food, turned and retraced his steps to 
the world above. 

Days came and went, and still my new jailer con- 
tinued his duties, nor would he ever speak a word 
to me, either in reply to the simplest question or of 
his own initiative. 

I could only speculate on the cause of Parthak's 
removal, but that it was connected in some way 


directly with the note that I had given him was most 
apparent to me. After all my rejoicing, I was no 
better off than before, for now I did not even know 
that Carthoris lived, for if Parthak had wished to 
raise himself in the estimation of Zat Arrras he 
would have permitted me to go on precisely as I did, 
so that he could carry my note to his master, in proof 
of his own loyalty and devotion. 

Thirty days had passed since I had given the 
youth the note. Three hundred and thirty days had 
passed since my incarceration. As closely as I could 
figure, there remained a bare thirty days ere Dejah 
Thoris would be ordered to the arena for the rites 
of Issus. 

As the terrible picture forced itself vividly across 
my imagination, I buried my face in my arms, and 
only with the greatest difficulty was it that I re- 
pressed the tears that welled to my eyes despite my 
every effort. To think of that beautiful creature 
torn and rended by the cruel fangs of the hideous 
white apes! It was unthinkable. Such a horrid 
fact could not be; and yet my reason told me that 
within thirty days my incomparable Princess would 
be fought over in the arena of the First Born by 
those very wild beasts; that her bleeding corpse 
would be dragged through the dirt and the dust, 
until at last a part of it would be rescued to be served 
as food upon the tables of the black nobles. 

I think that I should have gone crazy but for the 


sound of my approaching jailer. It distracted my 
attention from the terrible thoughts that had been 
occupying my entire mind. Now a new and grim 
determination carne to me. I would make one super- 
human effort to escape. Kill my jailer by a ruse, 
and trust to fate to lead me to the outer world in 

With the thought came instant action. I threw 
myself upon the floor of my cell close by the wall, 
in a strained and distorted posture, as though I were 
dead after a struggle or convulsions. When he 
should stoop over me I had but to grasp his throat 
with one hand and strike him a terrific blow with 
the slack of my chain, which I gripped firmly in my 
right hand for that purpose. 

Nearer and nearer came the doomed man. Now I 
heard him halt before me. There was a muttered 
exclamation, and then a step as he came to my side. 
I felt him kneel beside me. My grip tightened upon 
the chain. He leaned close to me. I must open 
my eyes to find his throat, grasp it, and strike one 
mighty final blow all at the same instant. 

The thing worked just as I had planned. So brief 
was the interval between the opening of my eyes 
and the fall of the chain that I could not check it, 
though in that minute interval I recognized the face 
so close to mine as that of my son, Carthoris. 

God! What cruel and malign fate had worked 
to such a frightful end! What devious chain of 


circumstances had led my boy to my side at this one 
particular minute of our lives when I could strike 
him down and kill him, in ignorance of his identity ! 
A benign though tardy Providence blurred my vision 
and my mind as I sank into unconsciousness across 
the lifeless body of my only son. 

When I regained consciousness it was to feel a 
cool, firm hand pressed upon my forehead. For an 
instant I did not open my eyes. I was endeavoring 
to gather the loose ends of many thoughts and mem- 
ories which flitted elusively through my tired and 
overwrought brain. 

At length came the cruel recollection of the thing 
that I had done in my last conscious act, and then 
I dared not open my eyes for fear of what I should 
see lying beside me. I wondered who it could be 
who ministered to me. Carthoris must have had a 
companion whom I had not seen. Well, I must face 
the inevitable some time, so why not now, and with 
a sigh I opened my eyes. 

Leaning over me was Carthoris, a great bruise 
upon his forehead where the chain had struck, but 
alive, thank God, alive ! There was no one with him. 
Reaching out my arms, I took my boy within them, 
and if ever there arose from any planet a fervent 
prayer of gratitude, it was there beneath the crust of 
dying Mars as I thanked the Eternal Mystery for 
my son's life. 

The brief instant in which I had seen and recog- 


nized Carthoris before the chain fell must have been 
ample to check the force of the blow. He told me 
that he had lain unconscious for a time — how long 
he did not know. 

" How came you here at all ? " I asked, mystified 
that he had found me without a guide. 

"It was by your wit in apprising me of your 
existence and imprisonment through the youth, Par- 
thak. Until he came for his harness and his sword, 
we had thought you dead. When I had read your 
note I did as you had bid, giving Parthak his choice 
of the harness in the guard room, and later bringing 
the jeweled short-sword to him ; but the minute that 
I had fulfilled the promise you evidently had made 
him, my obligation to him ceased. Then I com- 
menced to question him, but he would give me no 
information as to your whereabouts. He was in- 
tensely loyal to Zat Arrras. 

"Finally I gave him a fair choice between free- 
dom and the pits beneath the palace — the price of 
freedom to be full information as to where you were 
imprisoned and directions which would lead us to 
you; but still he maintained his stubborn partisan- 
ship. Despairing, I had him removed to the pits, 
where he still is. 

"No threats of torture or death, no bribes, how- 
ever fabulous, would move him. His one reply to 
ail our importunities was that whenever Parthak 
died, were it tomorrow or a thousand years hence, 


no man could truly say, 'A traitor is gone to his 

" Finally, Xodar, who is a fiend for subtile crafti- 
ness, evolved a plan whereby we might worm the 
information from him. And so I caused Hor Vastus 
to be harnessed in the metal of a Zodangan soldier 
and chained in Parthak's cell beside him. For fif- 
teen days the noble Hor Vastus has languished in 
the darkness of the pits, but not in vain. Little by 
little he won the confidence and friendship of the 
Zodangan, until only today Parthak, thinking that 
he was speaking not only to a countryman, but to 
a dear friend, revealed to Hor Vastus the exact cell 
in which you lay. 

" It took me but a short time to locate the plans 
of the pits of Helium among thy official papers. 
To come to you, though, was a trifle more difficult 
matter. As you know, while all the pits beneath the 
city are connected, there are but single entrances 
from those beneath each section and its neighbor, 
and that at the upper level just underneath the 

" Of course, these openings which lead from con- 
tiguous pits to those beneath government buildings 
are always guarded, and so, while I easily came to 
the entrance to the pits beneath the palace which Zat 
Arrras is occupying, I found there a Zodangan sol- 
dier on guard. There I left him when I had gone 
by, but his soul was no longer with him. 


— — — - 

"And here I am, just in time to be nearly killed 
by you," he ended, laughing. 

As he talked Carthoris had been working at the 
lock which held my fetters, and now, with an excla- 
mation of pleasure, he dropped the end of the chain 
to the floor, and I stood up once more, freed from 
the galling irons I had chafed in for almost a year. 

He had brought a long-sword and a dagger for 
me, and thus armed we set out upon the return 
journey to my palace. 

At the point where we left the pits of Zat Arrras 
we found the body of the guard Carthoris had slain. 
It had not yet been discovered, and, in order to still 
further delay search and mystify the jed's people, 
we carried the body with us for a short distance, 
hiding it in a tiny cell off the main corridor of the 
pits beneath an adjoining estate. 

Some half hour later we came to the pits beneath 
our own palace, and soon thereafter emerged into 
the audience chamber itself, where we found Kantos 
Kan, Tars Tarkas, Hor Vastus, and Xodar awaiting 
us most impatiently. 

No time was lost in fruitless recounting of my 
imprisonment. What I desired to know was how 
well the plans we had laid nearly a year ago had 
been carried out. 

" It has taken much longer than we had expected/' 
replied Kantos Kan. " The fact that we were com- 
pelled to maintain utter secrecy has handicapped U9 


terribly. Zat Arrras' spies are everywhere. Yet, to 
the best of my knowledge, no word of our real plans 
has reached the villain's ear. 

"Tonight there lies about the great docks at 
Hastor a fleet of a thousand of the mightiest battle- 
ships that ever sailed above Barsoom, and each 
equipped to navigate the air of Omean and the 
waters of Omean itself. Upon each battleship there 
are five ten-man cruisers, and ten five-man scouts, 
and a hundred one-man scouts ; in all, one hundred 
sixteen thousand craft fitted with both air and water 

"At Thark lie the transports for the green war^ 
riors of Tars Tarkas, nine hundred large troop ships, 
and with them their convoys. Seven days ago all 
was in readiness, but we waited in the hope that by 
so doing your rescue might be encompassed in time 
for you to command the expedition. It is well we 
waited, my Prince." 

"How is it, Tars Tarkas," I asked, "that the 
men of Thark take not the accustomed action against 
one who returns from the bosom of Iss?" 

"They sent a council of fifty chieftains to talk 
with me here," replied the Thark. " We are a just 
people, and when I had told them the entire story 
they were as one man in agreeing that their action 
toward me would be guided by the action of Helium 
toward John Carter. In the meantime, at their 
request, I was to resume my throne as Jeddak of 


Thark, that I might negotiate with neighboring 
hordes for warriors to compose the land forces of 
the expedition. I have done that which I agreed. 
Two hundred fifty thousand fighting men, gathered 
from the ice cap at the north to the ice cap at the 
south, and representing a thousand different com- 
munities, from a hundred wild and war-like hordes, 
fill the great city of Thark tonight. They are ready 
to sail for the Land of the First Born when I give 
the word and fight there until I bid them stop. All 
they ask is the loot they take and transportation to 
their own territories when the fighting and the loot- 
ing are over. I am done." 

"And thou, Hor Vastus," I asked, " what has been 
thy success?" 

"A million veteran fighting men from Helium's 
thin waterways man the battleships, the transports, 
and the convoys," he replied. "Each is sworn to 
loyalty and secrecy, nor were enough recruited from 
a single district to cause suspicion." 

" Good ! " I cried. " Each has done his duty, and 
now, Kantos Kan, may we not repair at once to 
Hastor and get under way before tomorrow's sun? " 

"We should lose no time, Prince," replied Kantos 
Kan. "Already the people of Hastor are question- 
ing the purpose of so great a fleet fully manned with 
fighting men. I wonder much that word of it has 
not before reached Zat Arrras. A cruiser awaits 
above at your own dock; let us leave at " A 


fusillade of shots from the palace gardens just with- 
out cut short his further words. 

Together we rushed to the balcony in time to see 
a dozen members of my palace guard disappear in 
the shadows of some distant shrubbery as in pursuit 
of one who fled. Directly beneath us upon the scar- 
let sward a handful of guardsmen were stooping 
above a still and prostrate form. 

While we watched they lifted the figure in their 
arms and at my command bore it to the audience 
chamber where we had been in council. When they 
stretched the body at our feet we saw that it was 
that of a red man in the prime of life — his metal 
( was plain, such as common soldiers wear, or those 
who wish to conceal their identity. 

"Another of Zat Arrras' spies/' said Hor Vastus. 

" So it would seem," I replied, and then to the 
guard: "You may remove the body." 

"Wait!" said Xodar. "If you will, Prince, ask 
that a cloth and a little thoat oil be brought." 

I nodded to one of the soldiers, who left the 
chamber, returning presently with the things that 
Xodar had requested. The black kneeled beside the 
body and, dipping a corner of the cloth in the thoat 
oil, rubbed for a moment on the dead face before 
him. Then he turned to me with a smile, pointing 
to his work. I looked and saw that where Xodar 
had applied the thoat oil the face was white, as white 
as mine, and then Xodar seized the black hair of the 


corpse and with a sudden wrench tore it all away, 
revealing a hairless pate beneath. 

Guardsmen and nobles pressed close about the 
silent witness upon the marble floor. Many were 
the exclamations of astonishment and questioning 
wonder as Xodar's acts confirmed the suspicion 
which he had held. 

"A them!" whispered Tars Tarkas. 

" Worse than that, I fear," replied Xodar. " But 
let us see." 

With that he drew his dagger and cut open a 
locked pouch which had dangled from the them's 
harness, and from it he brought forth a circlet of. 
gold set with a large gem — it was the mate to that/ 
which I had taken from Sator Throg. 

" He was a Holy Thern," said Xodar. " Fortu- 
nate indeed it is for us that he did not escape." 

The officer of the guard entered the chamber at 
this juncture. 

" My Prince," he said, " I have to report that this 
fellow's companion escaped us. I think that it was 
with the connivance of one or more of the men at 
the gate. I have ordered them all under arrest." 

Xodar handed him the thoat oil and cloth. 

" With this you may discover the spy among you," 
he said. 

I at once ordered a secret search within the city, 
for every Martian noble maintains a secret service 
of his own. 


A half hour later the officer of the guard came 
again to report. This time it was to confirm our 
worst fears — half the guards at the gate that night 
had been therns disguised as red men. 

" Come ! " I cried. " We must lose no time. On 
to Hastor at once. Should the therns attempt to 
check us at the southern verge of the ice cap it may 
result in the wrecking of all our plans and the total 
destruction of the expedition." 

Ten minutes later we were speeding through the 
night toward Hastor, prepared to strike the first 
blow for the preservation of Dejah Thoris. 



TWO hours after leaving my palace in 
Helium, or about midnight, Kantos Kan, 
Xodar, and I arrived at Hastor. Carthoris, Tars 
Tarkas, and Hor Vastus had gone directly to 
Thark upon another cruiser. 

The transports were to get under way imme- 
diately and move slowly south. The fleet of battle- 
ships would overtake them on the morning of the 
second day. 

At Hastor we found all in readiness, and so per- 
fectly had Kantos Kan planned every detail of the 
campaign that within ten minutes of our arrival the 
first of the fleet had soared aloft from its dock, and 
thereafter, at the rate of one a second, the great 
ships floated gracefully out into the night to form a 
long, thin line which stretched for miles toward the 

It was not until after we had entered the cabin 
of Kantos Kan that I thought to ask the date, for 
up to now I was not positive how long I had lain in 
the pits of Zat Arrras. When Kantos Kan told 
me, I realized with a pang of dismay that I had 
misreckoned the time while I lay in the utter 



darkness of my cell. Three hundred and sixty-five 
days had passed — it was too late to save Dejah 

The expedition was no longer one of rescue but 
of revenge. I did not remind Kantos Kan of the 
terrible fact that ere we could hope to enter the 
Temple of Issus, the Princess of Helium would be 
no more. Insofar as I knew she might be already 
dead, for I did not know the exact date on which 
she first viewed Issus. 

What now the value of burdening my friends 
with my added personal sorrows — they had shared 
quite enough of them with me in the past. Here- 
after I would keep my grief to myself, and so I said 
nothing to any other of the fact that we were too 
late. The expedition could yet do much if it could 
but teach the people of Barsoom the facts of the 
cruel deception that had been worked upon them for 
countless ages, and thus save thousands each year 
from the horrid fate that awaited them at the con- 
clusion of the voluntary pilgrimage. 

If it could open to the red men the fair Valley 
Dor it would have accomplished much, and in the 
Land of Lost Souls between the Mountains of Otz 
and the ice barrier were many broad acres that 
needed no irrigation to bear rich harvests. 

Here at the bottom of adyingworld was the only 
naturally productive area upon its surface. Here 
alone were dews and rains, here alone was an opi n 


sea, here was water in plenty; and all this was but 
the stamping ground of fierce brutes and from its 
beauteous ard fertile expanse the wicked remnants 
of two once mighty races barred all the other mil- 
lions of Barsoom. Could I but succeed in once 
breaking down the barrier of religious superstition 
w T hich had kept the red races from this El Dorado 
it would be a fitting memorial to the immortal vir- 
tues of my Princess — I should have again served 
Barsoom and Dejah Thoris' martyrdom would not 
have been in vain. 

On the morning of the second day we raised the 
great fleet of transports and their consorts at the 
first flood of dawn, and soon were near enough to 
exchange signals. I may mention here that radio- 
aerograms are seldom if ever used in war time, or 
for the transmission of secret dispatches at any time, 
for as often as one nation discovers a new cipher, or 
invents a new instrument for wireless purposes its 
neighbors bend every effort until they are able to 
intercept and translate the messages. For so long 
a time has this gone on that practically every pos- 
sibility of wireless communication had been ex- 
hausted and no nation dares transmit dispatches of 
importance in this way. 

Tars Tarkas reported all well with the transports. 
The battleships passed through to take an advanced 
position, and the combined fleets moved slowly over 
the ice cap, hugging the surface closely to prevent 


detection by the therns whose land we were ap- 

Far in advance of all a thin line of one-man air 
scouts protected us from surprise, and on either side 
they flanked us, while a smaller number brought 
up the rear some twenty miles behind the transports. 
In this formation we had progressed toward the 
entrance to Omean for several hours when one of our 
scouts returned from the front to report that the 
cone-like summit of the entrance was in sight. At 
almost the same instant another scout from the left 
flank came racing toward the flagship. 

His very speed bespoke the importance of his in- 
formation. Kantos Kan and I awaited him upon the 
little forward deck which corresponds with the 
bridge of earthly battleships. Scarcely had his tiny 
flier come to rest upon the broad landing deck of 
the flagship ere he was bounding up the stairway 
to the deck where we stood. 

"A great fleet of battleships south-south-east, my 

Prince," he cried. " There must be several thousands 

and they are bearing down directly upon us." 

" The thern spies were not in the palace of John 

Carter for nothing," said Kantos Kan to me. "Your 

orders, Prince." 

"Dispatch ten battleships to guard the entrance 

to Omean, with orders to let no hostile vessel enter 

or leave the shaft. That will bottle up the great fl*e* 

of the First Born. 


" Form the balance of the battleships into a great 
V with the apex pointing directly south-south-east. 
Order the transports, surrounded by their convoys, 
to follow closely in the wake of the battleships until 
the point of the V has entered the enemies' line, then 
the V must open outward at the apex, the battle- 
ships of each leg engage the enemy fiercely and drive 
him back to form a lane through his line into which 
the transports with their convoys must race at top 
speed that they may gain a position above the tem- 
ples and gardens of the therns. 

" Here let them land and teach the Holy Therns 
such a lesson in ferocious warfare as they will not 
forget for countless ages. It had not been my inten- 
tion to be distracted from the main issue of the cam- 
paign, but we must settle this attack with the therns 
once and for all, or there will be no peace for us while 
our fleet remains near Dor, and our chances of ever 
returning to the outer world will be greatly mini- 

Kantos Kan saluted and turned to deliver my in- 
structions to his waiting aides. In an incredibly 
short space of time the formation of the battleships 
changed in accordance with my commands, the ten 
that were to guard the way to Omean were speeding 
toward their destination, and the troopships and 
convoys were closing up in preparation for the spurt 
through the lane. 

The order of full speed ahead was given, the fleet 


^— " I ■■ ■ ■■■■'■ ■■■ ■ '■! ■■ I — ■ ■■ ■ ' ■■■ m .i— I — I - ■ I ■ W 

sprang through the air like coursing greyhounds, 
and in another moment the ships of the enemy were 
in full view. They formed a ragged line as far as 
the eye could reach in either direction and about 
three ships deep. So sudden was our onslaught that 
they had no time to prepare for it. It was as unex- 
pected as lightning from a clear sky. 

Every phase of my plan worked splendidly. Our 
huge ships mowed their way entirely through the 
line of them battlecraft; then the V opened up and 
a broad lane appeared through which the trans- 
ports leaped toward the temples of the therns which 
could now be plainly seen glistening in the sunlight. 
By the time the therns had rallied from the attack a 
hundred thousand green warriors were already pour- 
ing through their courts and gardens, while a hun- 
dred fifty thousand others leaned from low swing- 
ing transports to direct their almost uncanny marks- 
manship upon the thern soldiery that manned the 
ramparts, or attempted to defend the temples. 

Now the two great fleets closed in a titanic strug- 
gle far above the fiendish din of battle in the gor- 
geous gardens of the therns. Slowly the two lines of 
Helium's battleships joined their ends, and then 
commenced the circling within the line of the enemy 
which is so marked a characteristic of Barsoomian 
naval warfare. 

Around and around in each other's tracks moved 
the ships under Kantos Kan, until at length they 


formed nearly a perfect circle. By this time they 
were moving at high speed so that they presented a 
difficult target for the enemy. Broadside after 
broadside they delivered as each vessel came in line 
with the ships of the therns. The latter attempted 
to rush in and break up the formation, but it was like 
stopping a buzz saw with the bare hand. 

From my position on the deck beside Kantos 
Kan I saw ship after ship of the enemy take the 
awful, sickening dive which proclaims its total de- 
struction. Slowly we maneuvered our circle of 
death until we hung above the gardens where our 
green warriors were engaged. The order was 
passed down for them to embark. Then they rose 
slowly to a position within the center of the circle. 

In the meantime the therns' fire had practically 
ceased. They had had enough of us and were only 
too glad to let us go on our way in peace. But our 
escape was not to be encompassed with such ease, 
for scarcely had we gotten under way once more in 
the direction of the entrance to Omean than we saw 
far to the north a great black line topping the hori- 
zon. It could be nothing other than a fleet of war. 

Whose or whither bound, we could not even 
conjecture. When they had come close enough to 
make us out at all, Kantos Kan's operator received 
a radioaerogram, which he immediately handed to 
my companion. He read the thing and handed it 
to me. 


" Kantos Kan : " it read. " Surrender, in the 
name of the Jeddak of Helium, for you cannot 
escape," and it was signed, "Zat Arrras." 

The therns must have caught and translated the 
message almost as soon as did we, for they imme- 
diately renewed hostilities when they realized that 
we were soon to be set upon by other enemies. 

Before Zat Arrras had approached near enough 
to fire a shot we were again hotly engaged with the 
thern fleet, and as soon as he drew near he too 
commenced to pour a terrific fusillade of heavy shot 
into us. Ship after ship reeled and staggered, into 
uselessness beneath the pitiless fire that we were 

The thing could not last much longer. I ordered 
the transports to descend again into the gardens of 
the therns. 

" Wreak your vengeance to the utmost,'' was my 
message to the green allies, " for by night there will 
be none left to avenge your wrongs." 

Presently I saw the ten battleships that had been 
ordered to hold the shaft of Omean. They were 
returning at full speed, firing their stern batteries 
almost continuously. There could be but one expla- 
nation. They were being pursued by another hostile 
fleet. Well, the situation could be no worse. The 
expedition already was doomed. No man that had 
embarked upon it would return across that dreary 
ice cap. How I wished that I might face Zat Arrras 


with my long-sword for just an instant before I 
died ! It was he who had caused our failure. 

As I watched the oncoming ten I saw their pur- 
suers race swiftly into sight. It was another great 
fleet; for a moment I could not believe my eyes, 
but finally I was forced to admit that the most 
fatal calamity had overtaken the expedition, for the 
fleet I saw was none other than the fleet of the First 
Born, that should have been so safely bottled up in 
Omean. What a series of misfortunes and disasters ! 
What awful fate hovered over me, that I should 
have been so terribly thwarted at every angle of my 
search for my lost love! Could it be possible that 
the curse of Issus was upon me ! That there was, 
indeed, some malign divinity in that hideous carcass ! 
I would not believe it, and, throwing back my shoul- 
ders, I ran to the deck below to join my men in 
repelling boarders from one of the thern craft that 
had grappled us broadside. In the wild lust of 
hand-to-hand combat my old dauntless hopefulness 
returned. And as thern after thern went down 
beneath my blade, I could almost feel that we should 
fcyin success in the end, even from apparent failure. 

My presence among the men so greatly inspirited 
them that they fell upon the luckless whites with 
such terrible ferocity that within a few moments 
we had turned the tables upon them and a second 
later as we swarmed their own decks I had the sat- 
isfaction of seeing their commander take the long 


leap from the bows of his vessel in token of sur- 
render and defeat. 

Then I joined Kantos Kan. He had been watch- 
ing what had taken place on the deck below, and it 
seemed to have given him a new thought. Immedi- 
ately he passed an order to one of his officers, and 
presently the colors of the Prince of Helium broke 
from every point of the flagship. A great cheer 
arose from the men of our own ship, a cheer that 
was taken up by every other vessel of our expedition 
as they in turn broke my colors from their upper 

Then Kantos Kan sprung his coup. A signal 
legible to every sailor of all the fleets engaged in 
that fierce struggle was strung aloft upon the flag- 

"Men of Helium for the Prince of Helium 
against all his enemies," it read. Presently my 
colors broke from one of Zat Arrras' ships. Then 
from another and another. On some we could see 
fierce battles waging between the Zodangan soldiery 
and the Heliumetic crews, but eventually the colors 
of the Prince of Helium floated above every ship 
that had followed Zat Arrras upon our trail — only 
his flagship flew them not. 

Zat Arrras had brought five thousand ships. The 
sky was black with the three enormous fleets. It was 
Helium against the field now, and the fight had set- 
tled to countless individual duels. There could be 


little or no maneuvering of fleets in that crowded, 
fire-split sky. 

Zat Arrras' flagship was close to my own. I 
could see the thin features of the man from where I 
stood. His Zodangan crew was pouring broadside 
after broadside into us and we were returning their 
fire with equal ferocity. Closer and closer came the 
two vessels until but a few yards intervened. Grap- 
plers and boarders lined the contiguous rails of each. 
We were preparing for the death struggle with our 
hated enemy. 

There was but a yard between the two mighty 
ships as the first grappling irons were hurled. I 
rushed to the deck to be with my men as they 
boarded. Just as the vessels came together with a 
slight shock, I forced my way through the lines and 
was the first to spring to the deck of Zat Arrras' ship. 
After me poured a yelling, cheering, cursing throng 
of Helium's best fighting men. Nothing could with- 
stand them in the fever of battle lust which en- 
thralled them. 

Down went the Zodangans before that surging 
tide of war, and as my men cleared the lower decks 
I sprang to the forward deck where stood Zat 

"You are my prisoner, Zat Arrras," I cried. 
" Yield and you shall have quarter." 

For a moment I could not tell whether he con- 
templated acceding to my demand or facing me 


with drawn sword. For an instant he stood hesitat- 
ing, and then throwing down his arms he turned and 
rushed to the opposite side of the deck. Before 1 
could overtake him he had sprung to the rail and 
hurled himself headforemost into the awful depths 

And thus came Zat Arrras, Jed of Zodanga, to 
his end. > 

On and on went that strange battle. The therns 
and blacks had not combined against us. Wher- 
ever thern ship met ship of the First Born was a bat- 
tle royal, and in this I thought I saw our salvation. 
Wherever messages could be passed between us that 
could not be intercepted by our enemies I passed 
the word that all our vessels were to withdraw from 
the fight as rapidly as possible, taking a position to 
the west and south of the combatants. I also sent 
an air scout to the fighting green men in the gardens 
below to reembark, and to the transports to join us. 

My commanders were further instructed that 
when engaged with an enemy to draw him as rapidly 
as possible toward a ship of his hereditary foeman, 
and by careful maneuvering to force the two to 
engage, thus leaving himself free to withdraw. This 
stratagem worked to perfection, and just before the 
sun. went down I had the satisfaction of seeing all 
that was left of my once mighty fleet gathered nearly 
twenty miles southwest of the still terrific battle be- 
tween the blacks and whites. 


I now transferred Xodar to another battleship 
and sent him with all the transports and five thou- 
sand battleships directly overhead to the Temple 
of Issus. Carthoris and I, with Kantos Kan, took 
the remaining ships and headed for the entrance to 

Our plan now was to attempt to make a combined 
assault upon Issus at dawn of the following day. 
Tars Tarkas with his green warriors and Hor Vas- 
tus w:<vh the red men, guided by Xodar, were to land 
within the gardens of Issus or the surrounding 
plains; while Carthoris, Kantos Kan, and I were 
to lead our smaller force from the sea of Omean 
through the pits beneath the temple, which Carthoris 
knew so well. 

I now learned for the first time the cause of my 
ten ships* retreat from the mouth of the shaft. It 
seemed that when they had come upon the shaft 
the navy of the First Born were already issuing 
from its mouth. Fully twenty vessels had 
emerged, and though they gave battle imme- 
diately in an effort to stem the tide that rolled 
from the black pit, the odds against them were 
too great and they were forced to flee. 

With great caution we approached the shaft, 
under cover of darkness. At a distance of several 
miles I caused the fleet to be halted, and from there 
Carthoris went ahead alone upon a one-man flier to 
reconnoiter. In perhaps half an hour he returned 


to report that there was no sign of a patrol boat 
or of the enemy in any form, and so we moved 
swiftly and noiselessly forward once more toward 

At the mouth of the shaft we stopped again for a 
moment for all the vessels to reach their previously 
appointed stations, then with the flagship I dropped 
quickly into the black depths, while one by one the 
other vessels followed me in quick succession. 

We had decided to stake all on the chance that 
we would be able to reach the temple by the sub- 
terranean way and so we left no guard of vessels 
at the shaft's mouth. Nor would it have profited 
us any to have done so, for we did not have suf- 
ficient force all told to have withstood the vast 
navy of the First Born had they returned to 
engage us. 

For the safety of our entrance upon Omean we 
depended largely upon the very boldness of it, be- 
lieving that it would be some little time before the 
First Born on guard there would realize that it was 
an enemy and not their own returning fleet that was 
entering the vault of the buried sea. 

And such proved to be the case. In fact, four 
hundred of my fleet of five hundred rested safely 
upon the bosom of Omean before the first shot 
was fired. The battle was short and hot, but there 
could have been but one outcome, for the First Born 
in the carelessness of fancied security had left but 



a handful of ancient and obsolete hulks to guard 
their mighty harbor. 

It was at Carthoris' suggestion that we landed our 
prisoners under guard upon a couple of the larger 
islands, and then towed the ships of the First Born 
to the shaft, where we managed to wedge a num- 
ber of them securely in the interior of the great 
well. Then we turned on the buoyancy rays in the 
balance of them and let them rise by themselves 
to further block the passage to Omean as they 
came into contact with the vessels already lodged 

We now felt that it would be some time at least 
before the returning First Born could reach the sur- 
face of Omean, and that we would have ample op- 
portunity to make for the subterranean passages 
which lead to Issus. One of the first steps I took 
was to hasten personally with a good-sized force 
to the island of the submarine, which I took with- 
out resistance on the part of the small guard there. 

I found the submarine in its pool, and at once 
placed a strong guard upon it and the island, where 
I remained to wait the coming of Carthoris and the 

Among the prisoners was Yersted, commander 
of the submarine. He recognized me from the 
three trips that I had taken with him during my 
captivity among the First Born. 

" How does it seem," I asked him, " to have the 


tables turned ? To be the prisoner of your erstwhile 
captive ?" 

He smiled, a very grim smile pregnant with hid- 
den meaning. 

" It will not be for long, John Carter," he replied. 
" ,We have been expecting you and we are prepared/' 

" So it would appear," I answered, " for you were 
all ready to become my prisoners with scarce a blow 
struck on either side." 

" The fleet must have missed you," he said, " but 
it will return to Omean, and then that will be a 
very different matter — for John Carter." 

" I do not know that the fleet has missed me as 
yet," I said, but of course he did not grasp my mean- 
ing, and only looked puzzled. 

"Many prisoners travel to Issus in your grim 
craft, Yersted?" I asked. 

" Very many," he assented. 

" Might you remember one whom men called 
Dejah Thoris?" 

" Well, indeed, for her great beauty, and then, 
too, for the fact that she was wife to the first mortal 
that ever escaped from Issus through all the count- 
less ages of her godhood. And they say that Issus 
remembers her best as the wife of one and the 
mother of another who raised their hands against 
the Goddess of Life Eternal." 

I shuddered for fear of the cowardly revenge that 
I knew Issus might have taken upon the innocent 


Dejah Thoris for the sacrilege of her son and her 

"And where is Dejah Thoris now?" I asked, 
knowing that he would say the words I most dreaded, 
but yet I loved her so that I could not refrain from 
hearing even the worst about her fate so that it fell 
from the lips of one who had seen her but recently. 
It was to me as though it brought her closer to me. 

"jYesterday the monthly rites of Issus were held," 
replied Yersted, " and I saw her then sitting in her 
accustomed place at the foot of Issus." 

"What," I cried, "she is not dead, then?" 

"Why, no," replied the black, "it has been no 
year since she gazed upon the divine glory of the 
radiant face of " 

" No year ? " I interrupted. 

"Why, no," insisted Yersted. "It cannot have 
been upward of three hundred seventy or eighty 

N. great light burst upon me. How stupid I had 
been ! I could scarce restrain an outward exhibition 
of my great joy. Why had I forgotten the great 
difference in the length of Martian and earthly 
years ! The ten Earth years I had spent upon Bar- 
soom had encompassed but five years and ninety- 
six days of Martian time, whose days are forty- 
one minutes longer than ours, and whose years 
number six hundred eighty-seven days. 

I am in time ! I am in time ! The words surged 



through my brain again and again, until at last I 
must have voiced them audibly, for Yersted shook 
his head. 

"In time to save your Princess ?" he asked, and 
then without waiting for my reply, " No, John Car- 
ter, Issus will not give up her own. She knows that 
you are coming, and ere ever a vandal foot is set 
within the precincts of the Temple of Issus, if such 
a calamity should befall, Dejah Thoris will be put 
away forever from the last faint hope of rescue." 

"You mean that she will be killed merely to 
thwart me ? " I asked. 

" Not that, other than as a last resort," he replied. 
"Hast ever heard of the Temple of the Sun? It is 
there that they will put her. It lies far within the 
inner court of the Temple of Issus, a little temple 
that raises a thin spire far above the spires and 
minarets of the great temple that surrounds it. Be- 
neath it, in the ground, there lies the main body of 
the temple consisting in six hundred eighty-seven 
circular chambers, one below another. To each 
chamber a single corridor leads through solid rock 
from the pits of Issus. 

"As the entire Temple of the Sun revolves once 
with each revolution of Barsoom about the sun but 
once each year does the entrance to each separate 
chamber come opposite the mouth of the corridor 
which forms its only link to the world without. 

" Here Issus puts those who displease her, but 


whom she does not care to execute forthwith. Or 
to punish a noble of the First Born she may cause 
him to be placed within a chamber of the Temple 
of the Sun for a year. Ofttimes she imprisons an 
executioner with the condemned, that death may 
come in a certain horrible form upon a given day, 
or again but enough food is deposited in the cham- 
ber to sustain life but the number of days that Issus 
has allotted for mental anguish. 

"Thus will Dejah Thoris die, and her fate will 
be sealed by the first alien foot that crosses the 
threshold of Issus." 

So I was to be thwarted in the end, although I had 
performed the miraculous and come within a few 
short moments of my divine Princess, yet was I as 
far from her as when I stood upon the banks of the 
Hudson forty-eight million miles away. 



XT'ERSTED'S information convinced me that 
JL there was no time to be lost. I must reach the 
Temple of Issus secretly before the forces under 
Tars Tarkas assaulted at dawn. Once within its 
hated walls I was positive that I could overcome 
the guards of Issus and bear away my Princess, 
for at my back I would have a force ample for the 

No sooner had Carthoris and the others joined 
me than we commenced the transportation of our 
men through the submerged passage to the mouth 
of the gangways which lead from the submarine 
pool at the temple end of the watery tunnel to the 
pits of Issus. 

Many trips were required, but at last all stood 
safely together again at the beginning of the end of 
our quest. Five thousand strong we were, all sea- 
soned fighting men of the most war-like race of the 
red men of Barsoom. 

As Carthoris alone knew the hidden ways of the 
tunnels, we could not divide the nartv and attack 
tne temple at several points at once as would have 
been most desirable, and so it was decided that he 


lead us all as quickly as possible to a point near 
the templet center. 

As we were about to leave the pool and enter 
the corridors, an officer called my attention to the 
waters upon which the submarine floated. At first 
they seemed to be merely agitated as from the move- 
ment of some great body beneath the surface, and 
I at once conjectured that another submarine was 
rising to the surface in pursuit of us ; but presently 
it became apparent that the level of the waters was 
rising, not with extreme rapidity, but very surely, 
and that soon they would overflow the sides of the 
pool and submerge the floor of the chamber. 

For a moment I did not fully grasp the terrible 
import of the slowly rising water. It was Carthoris 
who realized the full meaning of the thing — its 
cause and the reason for it. 

" Haste ! " he cried. " Fi we delay, we all are lost. 
The pumps of Omean bave been stopped. They 
would drown us like rats in a trap. We must reach 
the upper levels of the pits in advance of the flood 
or we shall never reach them. Come." 

"Lead the way, Carthoris," I cried. "We will 

At my command, the youth leaped into one of the 
corridors, and in column of twos the soldiers fol- 
lowed him in good order, each company entering the 
corridor only at the command of its dwar, or captain. 

Before the last company filed from the chamber 


the water was ankle deep, and that the men were 
nervous was quite evident. Entirely unaccustomed 
to water except in quantities sufficient for drinking 
and bathing purposes the red Martians instinctively 
shrank from it in such formidable depths and men- 
acing activity. That they were undaunted while it 
swirled and eddied about their ankles, spoke well for 
their bravery and their discipline. 

I was the last to leave the chamber of the sub- 
marine, and as I followed the rear of the column 
toward the corridor, I moved through water to my 
knees. The corridor, too, was flooded to the same 
depth, for its floor was on a level with the floor of 
the chamber from which it led, nor was there any 
perceptible rise for many yards. 

The march of the troops through the corridor 
was as rapid as was consistent with the number of 
men that moved through so narrow a passage, but it 
was not ample to permit us to gain appreciably on 
the pursuing tide. As the level of the passage rose, 
so, too, did the waters rise until it soon became ap- 
parent to me, who brought up the rear, that they 
were gaining rapidly upon us. I could understand 
the reason for this, as with the narrowing expanse 
of Omean as the waters rose toward the apex of its 
dome, the rapidity of its rise would increase in in- 
verse ratio to the ever lessening space to be filled 

Long ere the last of the column could hope to 
reach the upper pits which lay above the danger 


point I was convinced that the waters would surge 
after us in overwhelming volume, and that fully 
half the expedition would be snuffed out. 

As I cast about for some means of saving as many 
as possible of the doomed men, I saw a diverging 
corridor which seemed to rise at a steep angle at 
my right. The waters were now swirling about my 
waist. The men directly before me were quickly 
becoming panic-stricken. Something must be done 
at once or they would rush forward upon their fel- 
lows in a mad stampede that would result in tram- 
pling down hundreds beneath the flood and eventu- 
ally clogging the passage beyond any hope of retreat 
for those in advance. 

Raising my voice to its utmost, I shouted my 
commands to the dwars ahead of me. 

" Call back the last twenty-five utans," I shouted. 
"Here seems a way of escape. Turn back and 
follow me." 

My orders were obeyed by nearer thirty utans, 
so that some three thousand men came about and 
hastened into the teeth of the flood to reach the cor- 
ridor up which I directed them. 

As the first dwar passed in with his utan I cau- 
tioned him to listen closely for my commands, and 
under no circumstances to venture into the open, or 
leave the pits for the temple proper until I should 
have come up with him, " or you know that I died 
before I could reach you." 


The officer saluted and left me. The men filed 
rapidly past me and entered the diverging corridor 
which I hoped would lead to safety. The water 
rose breast high. Men stumbled, floundered, and 
went down. Many I grasped and set upon their 
feet again, but alone the work was greater than I 
could cope with. Soldiers were being swept beneath 
the boiling torrent, never to rise. At length the 
dwar of the 10th utan took a stand beside me. He 
was a valorous soldier, Gur Tus by name, and to- 
gether we kept the now thoroughly frightened 
troops in the semblance of order and rescued many 
that would have drowned otherwise. 

Djor Kantos, son of Kantos Kan, and a padwar 
of the fifth utan joined us when his utan reached the 
opening through which the men were fleeing. There- 
after not a man was lost of all the hundreds that 
remained to pass from the main corridor to the 

As the last utan was filing past us the waters 
had risen until they surged about our necks, but we 
clasped hands and stood our ground until the last 
man had passed to the comparative safety of the 
new passageway. Here we found an immediate and 
steep ascent, so that within a hundred yards we 
had reached a point above the waters. 

For a few minutes we continued rapidly up the 
steep grade, which I hoped would soon bring us 
quickly to the upper pits that let into the Temple of 


Issus. But I was to meet with a cruel disappoint- 

Suddenly I heard a cry of " fire " far ahead, fol- 
lowed almost at once by cries of terror and the loud 
commands of dwars and padwars who were evi- 
dently attempting to direct their men away from 
some grave danger. At last the report came back 
to us. " They have fired the pits ahead." " We 
are hemmed in by flames in front and flood behind." 
"Help, John Carter; we are suffocating," and then 
there swept back upon us at the rear a wave of dense 
smoke that sent us, stumbling and blinded, into a 
choking retreat. 

There was naught to do other than seek a new 
avenue of escape. The fire and smoke were to be 
feared a thousand times over the water, and so I 
seized upon the first gallery which led out of and 
up from the suffocating smoke that was engulfing us. 

Again I stood to one side while the soldiers 
hastened through on the new way. Some two thou- 
sand must have passed at a rapid run, when the 
stream ceased, but I was not sure that all had been 
rescued who had not passed the point of origin of 
the flames, and so to assure myself that no poor 
'devil was left behind to die a horrible death, un- 
succored, I ran quickly up the gallery in the direc- 
tion of the flames which I could now see burning 
with a dull glow far ahead. 

It was hot and stifling work, but at last I reached 


a point where the fire lit up the corridor sufficiently 
for me to see that no soldier of Helium lay between 
me and the conflagration — what was in it or upon 
the far side I could not know, nor could any man 
have passed through that seething hell of chemicals 
and lived to learn. 

Having satisfied my sense of duty, I turned and 
ran rapidly back to the corridor through which my 
men had passed. To my horror, however, I found 
that my retreat in this direction had been blocked — 
across the mouth of the corridor stood a massive 
steel grating that had evidently been lowered from 
its resting place above for the purpose of effectually 
cutting off my escape. 

That our principal movements were known to the 
First Born I could not have doubted, in view of 
the attack of the fleet upon us the day before, nor 
could the stopping of the pumps of Omean at the 
psychological moment have been due to chance, nor 
the starting of a chemical combustion within the 
one corridor through which we were advancing 
upon the Temple of Issus been due to aught than 
well-calculated design. 

And now the dropping of the steel gate to pen 
me effectually between fire and flood seemed to 
indicate that invisible eyes were upon us at every 
moment. What chance had I, then, to rescue Dejah 
Thoris were I to be compelled to fight foes who 
never showed themselves. A thousand times I be- 


rated myself for being drawn into such a trap as 
I might have known these pits easily could be. Now; , 
I saw that it would have been much better to have 
kept our force intact and made a concerted attack 
upon the temple from the valley side, trusting to 
chance and our great fighting ability to have over- 
whelmed the First Born and compelled the safe 
delivery of Dejah Thoris to me. 

The smoke from the fire was forcing me further 
and further back down the corridor toward the 
waters which I could hear surging through the dark- 
ness. With my men had gone the last torch, nor was 
this corridor lighted by the radiance of phosphores- 
cent rock as were those of the lower levels. It was 
this fact that assured me that I was not far from 
the upper pits which lie directly beneath the temple 

Finally I felt the lapping waters about my fee'* 
The smoke was thick behind me. My suffering was 
intense. There seemed but one thing to do, and 
that to choose the easier death which confronted 
me, and so I moved on down the corridor until the 
cold waters of Omean closed about me, and I swam 
on through utter blackness toward — what? 

The instinct of self-preservation is strong even 
when one. unafraid and in the possession of his 
nighest reasoning faculties, knows that death — 
positive and unalterable — lies just ahead. And so 
I swam slowly on, waiting for my head to touch 
the top of the corridor, which would mean that I 


had reached the limit of my flight and the point 
where I must sink forever to an unmarked grave. 

But to my surprise I ran against a blank wall 
before I reached a point where the waters came to 
the roof of the corridor. Could I be mistaken? 
I felt around. No, I had come to the main corridor, 
and still there was a breathing space between the 
surface of the water and the rocky ceiling above. 
And then I turned up the main corridor in the direc- 
tion that Carthoris and the head of the column had 
passed a half hour before. On and on I swam, 
my heart growing lighter at every stroke, for I 
knew that I was approaching closer and closer to 
the point where there would be no chance that the 
waters ahead could be deeper than they were about 
me. I was positive that I must soon feel the solid 
floor beneath my feet again and that once more my 
chance would come to reach the Temple of Issus 
and the side of the fair prisoner who languished 

But even as hope was at its highest I felt the 
sudden shock of contact as my head struck the rocks 
above. The worst, then, had come to me. I had 
reached one of those rare places where a Martian 
tunnel dips suddenly to a lower level. Somewhere 
beyond I knew that it rose again, but of what value 
was that to me, since I did not know how great the 
distance that it maintained a level entirely beneath 
the surface of the water! 


There was but a single forlorn hope, and I took 
it. Filling my lungs with air, I dove beneath the 
surface and swam through the inky, icy blackness 
on and on along the submerged gallery. Time and 
time again I rose with upstretched hand, only to 
feel the disappointing rocks close above me. 

Not for much longer would my lungs withstand 
the strain upon them. I felt that I must soon suc- 
cumb, nor was there any retreating now that I had 
gone this far. I knew positively that I could never 
endure to retrace my path now to the point from 
which I had felt the waters close above my head. 
Death stared me in the face, nor ever can I recall a 
time that I so distinctly felt the icy breath from his 
dead lips upon my brow. 

One more frantic effort I made with my fast- 
ebbing strength. Weakly I rose for the last time — 
my tortured lungs gasped for the breath that would 
fill them with a strange and numbing element, but 
instead I felt the revivifying breath of life-giving 
air surge through my starving nostrils into my dying 
lungs. I was saved. 

A few more strokes brought me to a point where 
my feet touched the floor, and soon thereafter I was 
above the water level entirely, and racing like mad 
along the corridor searching for the first doorway 
that would lead me to Issus. If I could not have 
Dejah Thoris again I was at least determined to 
avenge her death, nor would any life satisfy me 


other than that of the fiend incarnate who was the 
cause of such immeasurable suffering upon Barsoom. 

Sooner than I had expected I came to what ap- 
peared to me to be a sudden exit into the temple 
above. It was at the right side of the corridor, 
which ran on, probably, to other entrances to the 
pile above. 

To me one point was as good as another. What 
knew I where any of them led! And so without 
waiting to be again discovered and thwarted, I ran 
quickly up the short, steep incline and pushed open 
the doorway at its end. 

The portal swung slowly in, and before it could 
be slammed against me I sprang into the chamber 
beyond. Although not yet dawn, the room was 
brilliantly lighted. Its sole occupant lay prone upon 
a low couch at the further side, apparently in sleep. 
From the hangings and sumptuous furniture of the 
room I judged it to be a living room of some priest- 
ess, possibly of Issus herself. 

At the thought the blood tingled through my 
veins. What, indeed, if fortune had been kind 
enough to place the hideous creature alone and un- 
guarded in my hands. With her as hostage I could 
force acquiescence to my every demand. Cautiously 
I approached the recumbent figure, on noiseless feet. 
Closer and closer I came to it, but I had crossed 
but little more than half the chamber when the figure 
stirred, and, as I sprang, rose and faced me. 


At first an expression of terror overspread the 
features of the woman who confronted me — then 
startled incredulity — hope — thanksgiving. 

My heart pounded within my breast as I advanced 
toward her — tears came to my eyes — and the 
words that would have poured forth in a perfect 
torrent choked in my throat as I opened my arms 
and took into them once more the woman I loved — ■ 
Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. 

v OHN CARTER, John Carter," she sobbed, 




J with her dear head upon my shoulder; "even 
now I can scarce believe the witness of my own 
eyes. When the girl, Thuvia, told me that you had 
returned to Barsoom, I listened, but I could not 
understand, for it seemed that such happiness would 
be impossible for one who had suffered so in silent 
loneliness for all these long years. At last, when 
I realized that it was truth, and then came to know 
the awful place in which I was held prisoner, I 
learned to doubt that even you could reach me 

"As the days passed, and moon after moon went 
by without bringing even the faintest rumor of you, 
I resigned myself to my fate. And now that you 
have come, scarce can I believe it. For an hour I 
have heard the sounds of conflict within the palace. 
I knew not what they meant, but I have hoped 
against hope that it might be the men of Helium 
headed by my Prince. 

"And tell me, what of Carthoris, our son?" 
"He was with me less than an hour since, Dejah 
Thoris," I replied. " It must have been he whose 



men you have heard battling within the precincts 
of the temple. 

"Where is Issus?" I asked suddenly. 

Dejah Thoris shrugged her shoulders. 

" She sent me under guard to this room just 
before the fighting began within the temple halls. 
She said that she would send for me later. She 
seemed very angry and somewhat fearful. Never 
have I seen her act in so uncertain and almost ter- 
rified a manner. Now I know that it must have 
been because she had learned that John Carter, 
Prince of Helium, was approaching to demand an 
accounting of her for the imprisonment of his 

The sounds of conflict, the clash of arms, the 
shouting, and the hurrying of many feet came to 
us from various parts of the temple. I knew that 
I was needed there, but I dared not leave Dejah 
Thoris, nor dared I take her with me into the tur- 
moil and danger of battle. 

At last I bethought me of the pits from which 
I had just emerged. Why not secrete her there 
until .[ could return and fetch her away in safety 
and forever from this awful place. I explained 
my plan to her. 

For a moment she clung more closely to me. 

" I cannot bear to be parted from you now, even 
for a moment, John Carter," she said. " I shudder 
at the thought of being alone again where that ter- 


rible creature might discover me. You do not 
know her. None can imagine her ferocious cruelty 
who has not witnessed her daily acts for over half 
a year. It has taken me nearly all this time to 
realize even the things that I have seen with my 
ovvn eyes." 

"I shall not leave you, then, my Princess," I 

She was silent for a moment, then she drew my 
face to hers and kissed me. 

" Go, John Carter," she said. " Our son is there, 
and the soldiers of Helium, fighting for the Princess 
of Helium. "Where they are you should be. I must 
not think of myself now, but of them and of my 
husband's duty. I may not stand in the way of that. 
Hide me in the pits, and go." 

I led her to the door through which I had entered 
the chamber from below. There I pressed her dear 
form to me, and then, though it tore my heart to 
do it, and filled me only with the blackest shadows 
of terrible foreboding, I guided her across the 
threshold, kissed her once again, and closed the 
door upon her. 

Without hesitating longer, I hurried from the 
chamber in the direction of the greatest tumult. 
Scarce half a dozen chambers had I traversed be- 
fore I came upon the theater of a fierce struggle. 
Ths blacks were massed at the entrance to a great 
chamber where they were attempting to block the 


further progress of a body of red men toward the 
inner sacred precincts of the temple. 

Coming from within as I did, I found myself 
behind the blacks, and, without waiting to even cal- 
culate their numbers or the foolhardiness of my 
venture, I charged swiftly across the chamber and 
fell upon them from the rear with my keen long- 

As I struck the first blow I cried aloud, " For 
Helium !" And then I rained cut after cut upon 
the surprised warriors, while the reds without took 
heart at the sound of my voice, and with shouts 
of "John Carter! John Carter!'' redoubled their 
efforts so effectually that before the blacks could 
recover from their temporary demoralization their 
ranks were broken and the red men had burst into 
the chamber. 

The fight within that room, had it had but a 
competent chronicler, would go down in the annals 
of Barsoom as a historic memorial to the grim 
ferocity of her war-like people. Five hundred men 
fought there that day, the black men against the 
red. No man asked quarter or gave it. As though 
by common assent they fought, as though to deter- 
mine once and for all their right to live, in accord- 
ance with the law of the survival of the fittest. 

I think we all knew that upon the outcome of this 
battle would hinge forever the relative positions of 
these two races upon Barsoom. It w?* a battle 


between the old and the new, but not for once did 
I question the outcome of it. With Carthoris at my 
side I fought for the red men of Barsoom and for 
their total emancipation from the throttling bondage 
of a hideous superstition. 

Back and forth across the room we surged, until 
the floor was ankle deep in blood, and dead men 
lay so thickly there that half the time we stood 
upon their bodies as we fought. As we swung 
toward the great windows which overlooked the 
gardens of Issus a sight met my gaze which sent a 
wave of exultation over me. 

"Look!" I cried. "Men of the First Born, 

For an instant the figliwing ceased, and with one 
accord every eye turned in the direction I had indi- 
cated, and the sight they saw was one no man of 
the First Born had ever imagined could be. 

Across the gardens, from side to side, stood a 
wavering line of black warriors, while beyond them 
and forcing them ever back was a great horde of 
green warriors astride their mighty thoats. And as 
we watched, one, fiercer and more grimly terrible 
than his fellows, rode forward from the rear, and 
as he came he shouted some fierce command to his 
terrible legion. 

It was Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, and as he 
couched his great forty foot metal-shod lance we 
saw his warriors do likewise. Then it was that we 


interpreted his command. Twenty yards now sepa- 
rated the green men from the black line. Another 
word from the great Thark, and with a wild and 
terrifying battle-cry the green warriors charged. 
For a moment the black line held, but only for a 
moment — then the fearsome beasts that bore equally 
terrible riders passed completely through it. 

After them came utan upon utan of red men. 

The green horde broke to surround the temple. The 

red men charged for the interior, and then we turned 

to continue our interrupted battle ; but our foes had 


My first thought was of Dejah Thoris. Calling 
to Carthoris that I had found his mother, I started 
on a run toward the chamber where I had left her r 
with my boy close beside me. After us came those 
of our little force who had survived the bloody 

The moment I entered the room I saw that some- 
one had been there since I had left. A silk lay upon 
the floor. It had not been there before. There were 
also a dagger and several metal ornaments strewn 
about as though torn from their wearer in a struggle. 
But worst of all, the door leading to the pits where 
I had hidden my Princess was ajar. 

With a bound I was before it, and, thrusting it 
open, rushed within. Dejah Thoris had vanished. 
I called her name aloud again and again, but there 
was no response. I think in that instant I hovered 


upon the verge of insanity. I do not recall what 
I said or did, but I know that for an instant I was 
seized with the rage of a maniac. 

" Issus ! " I cried. " Issus ! Where is Issus ? 
Search the temple for her, but let no man harm 
her but John Carter. Carthoris, where are the 
apartments of Issus ? " 

" This way," cried the boy, and, without waiting 
to know that I had heard him, he dashed off at 
break-neck speed, further into the bowels of the 
temple. As fast as he went, however, I was still 
beside him, urging him on to greater speed. 

At last we came to a great carved door, and 
through this Carthoris dashed, a foot ahead of me. 
Within, we came upon such a scene as I had wit- 
nessed within the temple once before — the throne 
of Issus, with the reclining slaves, and about it the 
ranks of soldiery. 

We did not even give the men a chance to draw, 
so quickly were we upon them. With a single cut I 
struck down two in the front rank. And then by 
the mere weight and momentum of my body, I 
rushed completely through the two remaining ranks 
and sprung upon the dais beside the carved sorapus 

The repulsive creature, squatting there in terror, 
attempted to escape me and leap into a trap behind 
her. But this time I was not to be outwitted by 
any such petty subterfuge. Before she had half 


- - — 

arisen I had grasped her by the arm, and then, as I 
saw the guard starting to make a concerted rush 
upon me from all sides, I whipped out my dagger 
and, holding it close to that vile breast, ordered 
them to halt. 

"Back!" I cried to them. "Back! The first 
black foot that is planted upon this platform sends 
my dagger into Issus' heart." 

For an instant they hesitated. Then an officer 
ordered them back, while from the outer corridor 
there swept into the throne room at the heels 
of my little party of survivors a full thousand 
red men under Kantos Kan, Hor Vastus, and 

"Where is Dejah Thoris?" I cried to the thing 
within my hands. 

For a moment her eyes roved wildly about the 
scene beneath her. I think that it took a moment 
for the true condition to make any impression upon 
her — she could not at first realize that the temple 
had fallen before the assault of men of the outer 
world. When she did, there must have come, too, 
a terrible realization of what it meant to her — the 
loss of power — humiliation — the exposure of the 
fraud and imposture which she had for so long 
played upon her own people. 

There was just one thing needed to complete the 
reality of the picture she was seeing, and that was 
added by the highest noble of her realm — the high 


priest of her religion — the prime minister of her 

" Issus, Goddess of Death, and of Life Eternal," 
he cried, "arise in the might of thy righteous wrath 
and with one single wave of thy omnipotent hand 
strike dead thy blasphemers! Let not one escape. 
Issus, thy people depend upon thee. Daughter of 
the Lesser Moon, thou only art all-powerful. Thou 
only canst save thy people. I am done. We await 
thy will. Strike!" 

And then it was that she went mad. A scream- 
ing, gibbering maniac writhed in my grasp. It bit 
and clawed and scratched in impotent fury. And 
then it laughed a weird and terrible laughter that 
froze the blood. The slave girls upon the dais 
shrieked and cowered away. And the thing jumped 
at them and gnashed its teeth and then spat upon 
them from frothing lips. God, but it was a horrid 

Finally, I shook the thing, hoping to recall it for 
a moment to rationality. 

* Where is Dejah Thoris?" I cried again. 

The awful creature in my grasp mumbled in- 
articulately for a moment, then a sudden gleam of 
cunning shot into those hideous, close-set eyes. 

"Dejah Thoris? Dejah Thoris?" and then that 
shrill, unearthly laugh pierced our ears once more. 

"Yes, Dejah Thoris — I know. And Thuvia, 
and Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang. They each 


love John Carter. Ha-ah ! but it is droll. Together 
for a year they will meditate within the Temple of 
the Sun, but ere the year is quite gone there will be 
Sio more food for them. Ho-oh ! what divine enter- 
tainment," and she licked the froth from her cruel 
lips. "There will be no more food — except each 
other. Ha-ah! Ha-ah!" 

The horror of the suggestion nearly paralyzed me. 
To this awful fate the creature within my power 
had condemned my Princess. I trembled in the 
ferocity of my rage. As a terrier shakes a rat I 
shook Issus, Goddess of Life Eternal. 

"Countermand your orders!" I cried. "Recall 
the condemned. Haste, or you die ! " 

"It is too late. Ha-ah! Ha-ah!" and then 
she commenced her gibbering and shrieking 


Almost of its own volition, my dagger flew up 
above that putrid heart. But something stayed my 
hand, and I am now glad that it did. It were a ter- 
rible thing to have struck down a woman with one's 
own hand. But a fitter fate occurred to me for this 
false deity. 

" First Born," I cried, turning to those who stood 
within the chamber, "you have seen today the im- 
potency of Issus — the gods are omnipotent. Issus 
is no god. She is a cruel and wicked old woman, 
who has deceived and played upon you for ages. 
Take her. John Carter, Prince of Helium, would 


not contaminate his hand with her blood," and 
with that I pushed the raving beast, whom a short 
half hour before a whole world had worshiped as 
divine, from the platform of her throne into the 
waiting clutches of her betrayed and vengeful 

Spying Xodar among the officers of the red men, 
I called him to lead me quickly to the Temple of 
the Sun, and, without waiting to learn what fate 
the First Born would wreak upon their goddess, I 
rushed from the chamber with Xodar, Carthoris, 
Hor Vastus, Kantos Kan, and a score of other red 

The black led us rapidly through the inner cham- 
bers of the temple, until we stood within the central 
court — a great circular space paved with a trans- 
parent marble of exquisite whiteness. Before us 
rose a golden temple wrought in the most won- 
drous and fanciful designs, inlaid with diamond, 
ruby, sapphire, turquoise, emerald, and the thousand 
nameless gems of Mars, which far transcend in love- 
liness and purity of ray the most priceless stones of 

"This way," cried Xodar, leading us toward the 
entrance to a tunnel which opened in the court-yard 
beside the temple. Just as we were on the point 
of descending, we heard a deep-toned roar burst 
from the Temple of Issus, which we had but just 
quitted, and then a red man, Djor Kantos, padwar 


of the fifth utan, broke from a nearby gate, crying 
to us to return. 

"The blacks have fired the temple/' he cried. 
" In a thousand places it is burning now. Haste to 
the outer gardens, or you are lost" 

As he spoke we saw smoke pouring from a dozen 
windows looking out upon the court-yard of the 
Temple of the Sun, and far above the highest min- 
aret of Issus hung an ever-growing pall of smoke. 

" Go back ! Go back ! " I cried to those who had 
accompanied me. "The way! Xodar; point the 
way and leave me. I shall reach my Princess yet." 

"Follow me, John Carter," replied Xodar, and 
without waiting for my reply he dashed down into 
the tunnel at our feet. At his heels I ran down 
through a half dozen tiers of galleries, until at last 
he led me along a level floor at the end of which I 
discerned a lighted chamber. 

Massive bars blocked our further progress, out 
beyond I saw her — my incomparable Princess, and 
with her were Thuvia and Phaidor. When she saw 
me she rushed toward the bars that separated us. 
Already the chamber had turned upon its slow way 
so far that but a portion of the opening in the temple 
wall was opposite the barred end of the corridor. 
Slowly the interval was closing. In a short time 
there would be but a tiny crack, and then even that 
would be closed, and for a long Barsoomian year 
the chamber would slowly revolve until once more 


for a brief day the aperture in its wall would pass 
the corridor's end. 

But in the meantime what horrible things would 
go on within that chamber! 

"Xodar!" I cried. "Can no power stop this 
awful revolving thing? Is there none who holds 
the secret of these terrible bars?" 

" None, I fear, whom we could fetch in time, 
though I shall go and make the attempt. Wait for 
me here." 

After he had left I stood and talked with Dejah 
fThoris, and she stretched her dear hand through 
those cruel bars that I might hold it until the last 

Thuvia and Phaidor came close also, but when 
Thuvia saw that we would be alone she withdrew 
to the further side of the chamber. Not so the 
daughter of Matai Shang. 

"John Carter," she said, "this be the last time 
that you shall see any of us. Tell me that you love 
me, that I may die happy." 

" I love only the Princess of Helium," I replied 
quietly. " I am sorry, Phaidor, but it is as I have 
told you from the beginning." 

She bit her lip and turned away, but not before I 
saw the black and ugly scowl she turned upon Dejah 
iThoris. Thereafter she stood a little way apart, but 
not so far as I should have desired, for I had many 
little confidences to impart to my long lost love. 


For a few minutes we stood thus talking in low 
tones. Ever smaller and smaller grew the opening. 
In a short time now it would be too small even to 
permit the slender form of my Princess to pass. 
Oh, why did not Xodar haste. Above we could 
hear the faint echoes of a great tumult. It was the 
multitude of black and red and green men fighting 
their way through the fire from the burning Temple 
of Issus. 

A draft from above brought the fumes of smoke 
to our nostrils. As we stood waiting for Xodar the 
smoke became thicker and thicker. Presently we 
heard shouting at the far end of the corridor, and 
hurrying feet. 

" Come back, John Carter, come back ! " cried a 
yoice, " even the pits are burning." 

In a moment a dozen men broke through the now 
blinding smoke to my side. There was Carthoris, 
and Kantos Kan, and Plor Vastus, and Xodar, with 
a few more who had followed me to the temple 

"There is no hope, John Carter," cried Xodar. 
"The keeper of the keys is dead and his keys are 
not upon his carcass. Our only hope is to quench 
this conflagration and trust to fate that a year will 
find your Princess alive and well. I have brought 
sufficient food to last them. When this crack 
closes no smoke can reach them, and if we hasten 
to extinguish the flames I believe they will be safe." 


"Go, then, yourself and take these others with 
you," I replied. "I shall remain here beside my 
Princess until a merciful death releases me from my 
anguish. I care not to live." 

As I spoke Xodar had been tossing a great num- 
ber of tiny cans within the prison cell. The remain- 
ing crack was not over an inch in width a moment 
later. Dejah Thoris stood as close to it as she 
could, whispering words of hope and courage to me, 
and urging me to save myself. 

Suddenly beyond her I saw the beautiful face 
of Phaidor contorted into an expression of malign 
hatred. As my eyes met hers she spoke. 

" Think not, John Carter, that you may so lightly 
cast aside the love of Phaidor, daughter of Matai 
Shang. Nor ever hope to hold thy Dejah Thoris 
in thy arms again. ,Wait you the long, long year; 
but know that when the waiting is over it shall be 
Phai dor's arms which shall welcome you — not those 
of the Princess of Helium. Behold, she dies ! " 

And as she finished speaking I saw her raise a 
dagger on high, and then I saw another figure. It 
was Thuvia's. As the dagger fell toward the un- 
protected breast of my love, Thuvia was almost be- 
tween them. A blinding gust of smoke blotted out 
the tragedy within that fearsome cell — a shriek 
rang out, a single shriek, as the dagger fell. 

The smoke cleared away, but we stood gazing 
upon a blank wall. The last crevice had closed, and 


~ I I I i^— — — i— — i^—^^^— ^^ W "»— **^— ^^ ^ "" " ■ ■ " ■■!■■■■ II. I ■■■^»— ^ 

for a long year that hideous chamber would retain 
its secret from the eyes of men. 

They urged me to leave. 

" In a moment it will be too late," cried Xodar. 
"There is, in fact, but a bare chance that we can 
come through to the outer garden alive even now. 
T have ordered the pumps started, and in five min- 
utes the pits will be flooded. If we would not drown 
like rats in a trap we must hasten above and make a 
dash for safety through the burning temple." 

"Go," I urged them. "Let me die here beside 
my Princess — there is no hope or happiness else- 
where for me. When they carry her dear body from 
that terrible place a year hence let them find the 
body of her lord awaiting her." 

Of what happened after that I have only a con- 
fused recollection. It seems as though I struggled 
with many men, and then that I was picked bodily 
from the ground and borne away. I do not know. 
I have never asked, nor has any other who was there 
that day intruded on my sorrow or recalled to my 
mind the occurrences which they know could but at 
best reopen the terrible wound within my heart. 

Ah ! If I could but know one thing, what a burden 
of suspense would be lifted from my shoulders! 
But whether the assassin's dagger reached one fair 
bosom or another, only time will divulge.